The Writer and the Fan: Thoughts on Mother’s Mercy

**Here there be spoilers about the Game of Thrones season five finale**

via casaharington on tumblr
via casaharington on Tumblr

The writer and the fan in me are constantly at odds.

The season five finale of Game of Thrones did a great job of highlighting this fact. As a writer, I understand the need to kill beloved characters for the sake of narrative integrity and vision. I have done that in my own writing with little concern for the future, potential reader’s delicate feelings. To me, the creator of the world and her characters, that death is destined, unchangeable, simply fact.

The fan in me does not deal in those absolutes.

The fan in me loved Jon Snow. And last night, this morning, throughout the day if I let my mind wander, the fan ached.

Now, before you laugh, judge, or think you are better than me because you care about the real world, I encourage you to consider, for a moment, why we absorb into art in the first place. Why actors act, writers write, musicians compose, and on and on: we want to connect, to make sense or make light or make broken something from our real world. There have even been studies done that show readers are more empathetic human beings.

We need art to help us understand the world we do live in.

As a creative person, I may also be more inclined to feel deeply for the characters I spend time with — whether they be my own or someone else’s. In the two years since I began watching Game of Thrones (we binged the blu-rays during the hiatus between season 2 and 3), my affection for the Bastard son of Ned Stark has become a thing of amusement to family and friends. I have received texts and Tweets and Facebook tags whenever someone ran across news about this character. I even wrote a character analysis about him once.

Fine, you can judge me a little. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

I remember feeling this way as an eleven year old reading To Kill a Mockingbird for the first time, sobbing over the attack on Jem and Scout, broken for these characters that had become (and forever will be) a part of me. I remember when I was sixteen, reading Harry Potter and turning into a broke-down zombie bride, waking in the middle of the night to check that the book was still beside me. I wrote essays about Harry. I wrote off other humans who couldn’t understand how I had been changed, utterly and completely, by the experience of going to Hogwarts.

I remember it from earlier, too. From Anne of Green Gables, from Pollyanna, from Charlotte’s Web and The Chronicles of Narnia.

And when I discovered The Hunger Games at twenty-six, and was suddenly thrust back into that experience of visceral, untainted affection, I remember spending an entire day crying after finishing Mockingjay. I was without the words to explain why I couldn’t shake the feeling of loss and longing gnawing away inside me.

Jon Snow is dead. We can speculate as fans that he will resurrect, but the line coming from the Thrones camp is one of finality. Kit Harington, the actor who was Jon for these five seasons of Thrones, has given interviews expressing his certainty that he is done. They could all be lying, milking it, but for now, I am just trying to grieve the loss. Because even if Jon comes back, it won’t be the same.

The writer in me understands this. Even if this is not the death I would have ultimately given him — a point I have argued with anyone willing to listen since I woke up this morning. But, this is not my show, and as much as my affection affords me the right to pine for the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch or to nerd rage over this loss, I can’t change it. I have nothing to bargain with David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, and all my empty threats about quitting the show, well, they aren’t listening to them.

But I can allow the fan in me a chance to feel sadness. To feel cheated. To feel like Jon — my Jon — deserved better than death at the end of a mutinous dagger. I have to because that is why I consume and create art. Feeling pain is wonderful and valuable, it provides an opportunity to grow, to learn. Is it silly to cry about Jon Snow’s death? Maybe. But ignoring what I have gained and now lost through his death, that would be a missed opportunity. That would be a mistake, as a writer and a fan.

And I’m both. I’m proud to be both.

(Clarifying: HBO and Kit Harington both have an obligation to maintain the line that he is gone because the show ended on a cliffhanger. My perspective is simply to believe that even if Jon (and the actor who plays him) comes back, the character of Jon Snow as we have known him will be altered. I expect, if they are going to bring him back, he will likely have a different identity (being reborn/renamed), and that will be how they get around the statements they have made this week.)

Conversations with my Husband

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Me trying to justify my ridiculous crush on Jon Snow to my husband:

ME: So, I told them that my crush on Jon Snow was made exponentially more intense because he reminds me of you. (smiles unconvincingly) I mean, if there was ever a character that was like you, it would for real be Jon Snow.

HUSBAND: (eyeing me suspiciously) If I’m Jon Snow, are you Ygritte?

ME:(being thoughtful) Erm…not likely. I don’t fancy myself North of the Wall. I’m Dany.

(He laughs outright.)

ME: (scoffing in offense) Hear me out. She’s got a strong sense of justice, but not necessarily right and wrong. Totally me. She’ll do whatever is necessary to get where she needs to go. (Points to self) And…

HUSBAND: She’s got a dragon.

ME: (eyes widen) She’s got a dragon. (Pauses, thinks about Dragon babies) Plus, she’s hot.

(Husband questions, not for the first time in our marriage, why he puts up with me.)

What’s Up Wednesday

whats up wednesdayWhat’s Up Wednesday is a weekly meme geared toward readers and writers, allowing us to touch base with blog friends and let them know what’s up. Should you wish to join us, you will find the link widget at the bottom of Jaime’s.

I want to preface this by saying, it’s been a hell of a week.

What I’m Reading

I finished Throne of Glass. I would like a moment of silence to relive some of the spine-tingling feels this book delivers. (Closes eyes and thinks about Chaol, Celeana, and Dorian. Wanders into daydreaming where I am an assassin with killer hair and cat-like reflexes who captures the interest of two beautiful men.)

OK, I’m back. I then decided to read Austenland by Shannon Hale. I love Jane Austen, and Mr.Darcy is still possibly one of the most swoony literary men ever, so this book naturally appeals to me. In much the same way I adored and devoured Bridget Jones’s Diary, I fell headlong in love with Austenland. It’s a quick read at 208 pages. It’s laugh-out-loud funny at times, and it delivers the romantic goods. I haven’t read an “adult” book since The Rules of Civility last year, but this book was exactly what I needed in the midst of my crazy week. It was an escape, just as Pembrook Park is for the heroine Jane, and one I was grateful for. 

The film adaptation was recently released, and it looks like a blast!

What I’m Writing

Hmm, what am I not writing? Last week we wrapped the first installments on our web series, now officially titled SUPER TV SHOW. Riding the high of this, the crew and I decided to take a chance on producing our own short film. This film project is one I have had in the works, in varying and evolving forms, for almost seven years. It’s a project I very much believe in. Next week we will launch a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds. I will share all that information as soon as I have the link for it. I am ridiculously excited. Along those lines I’ve been writing proposals, rewriting the script for filming, and sending emails to contacts in the locations we need permission to film in. For instance, we want to use a historical cemetery as one location. There is a Cemetery Board that must approve. It’s morbidly fabulous.

I also made some progress on my WiP, bringing in another 1500 words. I love this story, and now I am doing more in-depth research to flesh out the world-building. I also have some alpha readers who want to know where the hell my next pages are. Sorry!

What Inspires Me

We went to a small town to scout locations and shoot our Kickstarter video on Sunday. We ended up drinking wine in an eclectic antique store with the shop owner, a film buff who studied molecular science, and talking about Fellini. We also caught most of it on film.

The support of the writer community here and on Twitter. When I shared my experience with rejection last week, the response was overwhelmingly encouraging  and edifying. I am always impressed by you.

What Else I’m Up To

My son has been sick with swimmer’s ear and some kind of stomach bug. He also seems to be going through some sort of terrifyingly early pre-adolescent hormone surge. He screams, cries, and pits his will against mine at regular intervals throughout the day. His birthday was today — but his party is Saturday — and for the most part it was a lovely day. I made him a special breakfast, took him to a playground, and spent the afternoon watching Power Rangers Jungle Fury (only available through random vendors on Amazon, so it was a birthday present) with him at my mom’s house. I also had to threaten him repeatedly with time outs and loss of privileges if he didn’t put on his listening ears and get in the damn car. (I did not cuss at him, but in my head there was a string of expletives.) Children are a blessing. And so is alcohol.

I entered the “Agent Inbox” contest through author Krista Van Dolzer’s website. You should all visit the contest, which should be up some time today, and tell them how amazing Post #9 is. Plus, if you are at all curious to find out what my book is about, this is a good opportunity. I have never shared this much information about it on the internet. It’s feels scary.

Last night I went to the midnight release of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. First of all, wow, I am a major fangirl and really too old to be out so late. (Though, when I lived in NYC I spent quite a few wild nights out until 3am. But I was an idiot.) Second, the movie was a little disappointing, but Jace Lightwood in the flesh wasn’t.

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The most fabulous part of our late, late night was during the previews when this happened:

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I honestly can’t tell you anything about the teaser trailer that followed this shot. Pompeii comes out February 28, 2014, and I’ll be there. I have already exstensively searched the internet for the teaser trailer from last night with no luck. If you happen to stumble upon it before I do (and I promise, you will know when I do) please Tweet me or post in comments.

Happy Wednesday! Now, if only I could take a nap.