By: Jason Evans
Well, 2016 is finally coming to an end. For many people, it can’t end soon enough. We lost so many people in the world of arts and entertainment. Actors and entertainers I grew up with. People who defined a generation.
Then there was the election.
It seems we are more divided than ever. Instead of coming together, my friends are tearing their hair out and acting as if the sun isn’t going to shine tomorrow. Instead of reaching out to try and understand each other, we’ve grown the distance between ourselves and our neighbors. I sometimes think we speak two different languages to each other.
And it’s all driven by fear. I know a lot of people who live in fear. Fear of terrorism, fear of the government, fear of failure.
So today, to wrap up 2016, I’m not going to talk about this past year. We can all reflect on it in our own way. You can mourn its passing or celebrate it. I want to talk to you about courage. Courage is what this world needs. We need to strive for and practice courage. And here’s the best part. Courage isn’t the absence of fear, it’s the determination to act in spite of it.
One of my absolute favorite movies in the last ten years is Captain America II: The Winter Soldier. See, Cap has a “Flat character Arc.” That means Cap doesn’t really change his behaviors or actions that much in the film. The change occurs in those around him – they are the ones who go through a dramatic character arc.
There’s a scene that absolutely brings me to tears. Cap has announced in SHIELD HQ that HYDRA (The villainous organization,) is running the place. The black ops soldier, Brock Rumlow, pulls out a gun on an unsuspecting anonymous programmer and tells him to launch the ships that will enable HYDRA to take over the world.
The programmer freezes. Rumlow places the gun behind the programmer’s head. Now he has every right to knuckle under and do what he’s told. His life is on the line. He has no super powers. But he shuts his eyes, begins to tremble and says, “No. Captains orders.”
It took every ounce of nerve for that guy to whisper his defiance. But THAT is courage. He risked his life to support an idea. Just a little step in the right direction. It doesn’t have to be dramatic. You don’t have to make a scene. Just a soft, determination to carry on.
My mother-in-law is a 20+ year breast cancer survivor. Every year she goes to the survivor’s tent at the Denver Race for the Cure. The first time I went with her I was blown away. As a man, I like bravado, loud acts of defiance, even boorish behavior. These women showed me a different kind of courage.
Through their words and deeds, these women got up every morning and lived their lives in spite of the death sentence that hung over them. They smiled and laughed. They refused to let a diagnosis define them or how they were going to live. They mocked cancer. This too, is courage.
So what does this have to do with you writing a book? What does this have to do with writing historical fiction?
Writing takes courage, too.
It takes courage to get up an hour earlier for weeks at a time to sit down and write. It takes courage to put your kids to bed and stay up late to write one more page. It takes courage to believe that your book is special. That someone will not only enjoy your book, but will be touched by it. Chris Batty, the founder of NANOWRIMO, is fond of saying “The world needs your book.” He’s right, the world does need your book. Do you have the courage to write it? Well, it’s going to take courage.
And boy, do we NEED people of courage right now. We NEED you to be bold, to research and to write. We NEED you to do the impossible. We need you to walk through the valley of the shadow of death and fear no evil. We need you to say, with every action you take, that art is important to the world. And I want to help you.
Starting in January, I am launching an eight-part series on how to write historical fiction. Every month we will go over the basic steps to doing it right. From concept to publication, I will tell you where I messed up, so you can avoid my mistakes. I will give book recommendations, maybe even interview an author or two. This will be hard. It will take courage.
This will not only help those who write historical fiction, but those who write speculative fiction, Steampunk, Weird West, and any genre that depends on a little history. We will cover research, fleshing out your ideas, how to draft, even the steps it takes to self-publish or pitch to an agent.
President Theodore Roosevelt once said “Courage is the first virtue, because without it we can’t practice any of the others.” I have found this to be true time and time again. I’ll also add that courage is like a muscle; the more you use it, the stronger it becomes.
I hope your December is peaceful and filled with joy. I hope you get time to practice some gratitude and reflect. If you are in trouble, or going through some difficulty or pain, I sincerely hope for a positive resolution, some well-deserved rest, and above all, peace.
Gratitude, reflection, & rest. This is what we all need. But when January comes, gird your loins people – we fight the good fight!
About the Author: Jason Evans always wanted to be a writer, he just didn't know it. He grew up in Pasadena, California, in the 1980s where he watched way too much television, but was introduced to literature by his grandfather and his favorite middle school and high school teachers. He wasted his youth working at the So Cal Renaissance Faire (a dangerous place because it’s the gateway drug to other historical costumes,). In his leisure time he’s an educator, a writer, and a bon vivant. He is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara, with degrees in History & Renaissance Studies, a teaching credentials from CSU Los Angeles, as well as a graduate degree from the University of Colorado, Denver. He currently resides in Denver with his wife, the fetching Mrs. Evans, their three dogs and a mischievous cat who calls him his thrall.
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Jason’s website and blog is at www.jason-evans.net