Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Defining Factor

I’ve been thinking this week about fear, and passion, and battles worth fighting. In real life, everyone has struggles. All of us. That’s kind of what life’s about. But it isn’t necessarily our trials in life that define us. Is it?

Trials may shape us, but passion can, and often does, define us. A passionate person will fight for something they want, something they believe in. I dare say that passion has been a big factor in war and revolution in our world. If the American people didn’t feel passionate about their freedom, the revolutionary war would never have been fought, and especially not won. We were then, and remain still, a passionate country. Why else would elections become so heated? Debates so nasty?

It’s all due to passion.

Granted, that doesn’t mean people don’t often take things too far. That’s a given. Still, passion is an important thing to feel, to own, to have. Unfortunately, along with passion, we also have fears. Fear of reprisal, retribution, consequence. What will happen if we follow our passion? What will happen if we speak our minds? If we rock the boat? If we change the norm? What if we follow our dreams?

Fear can bind passion more tightly than steel, paralyzing us, removing us, restraining us. But there comes a time when some battles need to be fought. The trick is figuring out which battles are worth fighting, and which ones are best to let die.

Do we fight the revolutionary war or run and hide from the redcoats? Do we speak up about injustice or wait for someone else to do it for us? When someone pushes us in the wrong direction do we step away or push back? Unfortunately, the answer isn’t always cut and dry, isn’t always easy.

I believe that our passions decide our life path and make us into stronger people. It makes us who we are, or even better, who we want to be.

Forgive me, I’m about to forge into literary territory again. Can’t help it. It’s what I do. I’m going to use The Hunger Games as an example. **Spoiler alert** We have three characters.

1. Katniss, the main character. From the very beginning, we know what she feels passionate about: Her family, and more specifically, her little sister. We know this because right off the bat, she’s hunting, working hard to feed her sister and mother so they don’t starve.

2. Then we have Gale, a secondary character. Throughout the book (as well as the sequel, Catching Fire) we see him expressing anger toward the Capital, the laws, the disgust at the conditions under which his society, his family, is forced to live. Gale feels passionate about change. And he recognizes that in order to bring about that change, eventually, there will have to be a revolution.

3. Character number three is Peeta. At first, I wasn’t sure what Peeta felt passionate about. It took a little more thinking on my part before I saw the obvious. Peeta may want revolution, or he may not. He likes art, and baking, and he’s strong. But none of those things are his passion. The one thing he wants most in life is for Katniss to survive. She is his passion. (Le sigh.)

If you look closely, you’ll notice how the motivations and actions of each character are driven by passion. Personality, disposition, and reaction all play a part, but passion is definitely the driving force behind everything, behind all of them. And it’s what makes this such a compelling, great story. The goal may change in each book, but the driving passion remains the same.

So, yes, passion is definitely important in writing. Not to mention that an author will never succeed unless he/she feels passionate about what they are writing, or about writing itself. But even more than writing, passion is a huge important part of life. No matter what your goals, passion is the driving force that will ensure you succeed. Without it, the goal becomes an empty shell. There is nothing to win, lose, or gain.

What are you passionate about? And how does fear paralyze you? Is your battle (internal or external) worth fighting? Why? Really, I want to know. And no, I’m not just talking about writing for a change. I’m talking about life in general. Let’s have a sharing moment.


**UPDATE: In my contest post the other day, I originally forgot to mention Karen Hoover, who's book, The Sapphire Flute, is also being released next week. She's hosting an ongoing contest on her blog in which she draws a winner every Saturday this month. Check it out here. Sorry, Karen. Bad, bad me.


Carolyn V. said...

I totally agree with writing something you are passionate about. It really comes out in the writing.

I think right now that's what I'm feeling passionate about, writing. Even though I'm trying to get my degree and raise my kids - I love writing. My fear is that I won't accomplish the goals I am setting out for myself. But it's not worth letting go. I have to keep trying.

Keith Fisher said...

As you know I feel everything passionately. I agree with the notion that curbing passions is difficult and stifling, but sometimes It's not appropriate, either because of intensity or indifference. I often, find myself appologizing for dragging people into my passions when I see their eyes glaze over.

At other times, I've felt stiffled because I know letting it out would do no good, or it would lead to retribution of some kind. Many people felt ostracized because of their objections to the war in Iraq. Those opinions festerd unexpressed.

In the same vein, some passions, if followed, can cause hurt and sorrow, uprooting lives in the aftermath.

All in all, passion is a good thing. it's better than living life in a self-imposed bubble, closing our heart to self expression.

A person has to evaluate the consequenses. and express passion accordingly, but under no circumstances must they eliminate it.

Your passion makes you a great writer and a good friend. Keep it going.

Jodi Brown said...

I am passionate about LIVING life, not just letting it pass me by. So much to live for! :)

L.T. Elliot said...

I'm passionate about choice. The ability for me to choose and decide for myself--even the little things--is something I jealously safeguard. I find that it sneaks into my writing and many of my characters face "choice". (Who doesn't, right?)

Elana Johnson said...

Excellent thoughts. I've never thought about Peeta's passion being Kat's survival. That makes me like him a whole lot more (Dangitall -- I'm a Gale girl).

Great insight.

Nichole Giles said...

Jodi, thanks a lot for making me cry. No one knows how important it is to live life better than you. **Sniff** You're definitely an inspiration to everyone. Love ya!

L.T. choice is a big one for me too. Along with freedom. I get that.

Elana, I'm sorry. I'm a Peeta girl because, well, he's tried to give his life for Kat a few times. You can't help but love a guy like that. (Are you converted yet?) Although, I admit, Gale's a tough guy, and passionate. I really like him too. Poor Kat has a tough choice, huh? (Back to what L.T. said.)

Loving this discussion!