Anna’s fingers tapped the keys as she thought of what the post would be about. Her love of art. She smiled. Music was amazing. She loved it, had even majored in it in college, though the career path didn’t pan out. (How was she supposed to know she couldn’t handle entire classes of kids at once? Especially when they all had loud, unpracticed instruments in their hands?) Anna loved music, but she honestly wasn’t the greatest at it. She had to practice hard to keep up. Sight-reading? Not great. Remembering fingerings? Well, she remembered the keys, but refer to previous point. It gets all scrambled.
She smiled as she remembered the compliment she had received at church that morning on her Facebook album, “Bible Art Journaling.” She hadn’t done any Bible art for a while, but a new Facebook friend had recently discovered the album. She did love doing art in her journaling Bible, thinking deeply about the passage as she created its picture. It was fun to use various mediums as she created.
And words. Anna sure loved writing. She always had, really. Her spelling got better as she advanced in school, and currently, she cringes at misspelled words or grammatical errors. She loves writing dialogue. Music and sound are a strength of hers, after all. She is decent at writing the random blog post about one thing or another. But one of the hardest aspects that Anna struggles with is descriptions. If you’ve never met Anna, you don’t even know what she looks like, because I didn’t include that part of the description.
Anna made a face and hit “enter” too hard to start a new paragraph. She looked down at her hands on the keyboard. The ring on her left hand glimmered in the light of the lamp that was being cast that way. Shaking her head, Anna adjusted the lamp to get rid of the shadows on the left sides of her hands. Having a lamp was helpful, but it was even more so if it didn’t keep drooping too low.
“Hey, Doug,” she called out to her husband (who she refers to as DrH on her blog), “can you read this for me?” After he read what she had written (and laughed, of course), he started talking to her about her love of art. And it was what she needed to hear.
“Anna, before we were married, I didn’t know much about art,” he told her. “But, like this says, you love it. You know, you always ask what you have to give, because you have limitations. Art is something that you can give, and it helps you connect with people.”
Anna smiled as she felt his newly-shaved head of very short hair. “I love you,” she said. “And you’re right.”
“Before I met you,” he continued, “you were good at music and writing, but even since our marriage, you’ve learned so much about other kinds of art. Like painting.”
Anna looked around her living room, at all the signs that were hung on the wall, even though none of them went together. The pictures next to the Bible verse handwritten in chalk. The wood cross given to her by her dad, and the purple signs she requested of her aunt Pam before she even got married. The picture on canvas created by both her husband and daughter next to the fish. The other many Bible verses in different colors and different fonts on different signs. I’m getting totally distracted, she chided herself. Then, a comment from her dear sister floated through her head: “Anna, your house is like a novel, and it makes me tired.”
Sternly shaking her head, Anna thought about her move this summer and the better decorating she’d probably do. But, she thought with a shrug, I do like my signs.
THIS NARRATIVE IS NOT DESCRIPTIVE! Anna looked helplessly at her husband, who is busy listing out the items in the house they’d be moving. Uff da, thought the Minnesota-native. My next attempt. Will hopefully tell you about a little more than what’s going on in my head!?
My freshman year of college, during the first day of my communications class, I was asked to bring an item to the next class that represents me. My item: An index card. I made lists for everything. I had a to-do list for every day of the week and every week as a whole. I had index cards posted in my dorm room above my desk of my schedule each day of the week. As a music major, it was always a fight for practice rooms. Especially being a percussionist, I had to fight for practice time on some of the bigger instruments. My solution? Get up at 6, be in the band room by 7, practice until the first class in the room at 8. I was an early riser, determined to get my work done in a timely matter. In high school and in to college, I was a type-A perfectionist. I remember my cousin, Jenni, saying to me before my graduation open house, that she did NOT want to see what I’d be like on my wedding day.
And then the MS in my body started slowly progressing. I learned that door holding was something I could do, while moving percussion equipment was something I could not. I learned that by asking someone else for help, I was giving them an opportunity to be a blessing. I had conversations with God that would ask him for something small (like somebody to show up right when I needed them) and thank him the instant somebody saw me and asked if they could help. I could not control my body, so I eventually gave up trying to control everything else. And me, on my wedding day? I had “love brain” so bad, that I didn’t care what was happening, because I was getting married. I was asked how I wanted the church decorated a few days before. “I don’t care, ask Laura.” My sister was a rock’n awesome MOH, by the way. She said that she’ll give me so many decisions and responsibilities as her wedding. I just laugh, because I can see her micromanaging her big day in the best possible way. She is the best, after all. 😉
When I was in labor for my daughter (the only for now), a nurse panicked and ran for the doctor. My husband, a 3rd year med student at the time, got nervous. They put me on oxygen to help Lydia breathe better. He looked at me all concerned and asked if I was all right. Me, having received an epidural a few hours previous, smiled and told him that I was great, actually. I was going to have a baby! I have been, and still am, very involved with MOPS (mothers of pre-schoolers).
Fast-forward to now. I know I can’t control my body. I don’t even try to control things. My husband, the doctor-in-training, has enough worry and stress for the both of us. Why bother? But something needs to change. Last year, I decided in February that I was going to read 100 books, and I did. But this year, I am going to write. I got out my index cards again (because yes, I still have TONS) and made a few goals. But a SMART goal. One that is specific, manageable, attainable, realistic, and timely. And then we start with baby steps. First off the bat, is writing for 25 minutes a day minimum. About anything. Everything. My first day? Rambled on and on and on and…you get the point. But I decided that I want to start blogging again.
My 30th birthday was over Thanksgiving weekend, and my husband presented me with a box from “ALL your friends and family.” I was super confused until I opened the box. Almost 150 people sent me a birthday card! It took me a few days to read them all. Now, I don’t cry during sappy movies or when something is touching. I don’t even necessarily tear up. But as I was reading some of those cards, I was definitely misting. A few people told me how much they enjoyed my blog. All this to say, I’m back, everyone!
As I move forward, I will lay off the reading a bit. Maybe cancel my Kindle Unlimited subscription. (But there are a few Indie Authors that haven’t finished writing their series yet. I def have to finish those!) I will start writing again, and I will find my voice that has been somewhere inside me looking for a platform. I haven’t even been journaling lately. But that will be a few days’ worth of these 25-minute-segments, I’m sure.
What about you? Have you set a goal, or as some people call it, “A New Year’s Resolution?” Try breaking it down into little steps. It’s not near as daunting, and it is so worth it!
“Have you heard? Jesus is going to be born on earth tonight!”
“Oh my gosh, yes! Hey, do you wanna go and check it out? A bunch of us are going to earth tonight. God’s letting us!”
“How awesome is that? Duh, I wanna go! I wanna see him as a human for myself!”
“Yeah! I’m so excited!”
Meanwhile, on earth…
“Hey, guys, I’m gonna take a quick nap. It’s been pretty quiet tonight.”
“Say, rookie, you slept all day, right? This is our job—to watch the sheep when it’s dark, and the wolves might come. Just because it’s been quiet doesn’t mean that something will come when we least expect it—”
And suddenly, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see – I am bringing you good news of great joy for all…
Anna Meyer accepted the opportunity to write for the Appilachain News-Express while a reporter of theirs is on medical leave.
Meyer has been living in Pikeville, KY for more than a year. She has made friends at church and throughout the community. One of those friends, Lisa Forsyth, is related to the editor of the News-Express, one of the local newspapers in town. When Meyer brought up to Forsyth that she was interested in working at a newspaper last Sunday, Forsyth put a little bug in her nephew-in-law’s ear about Meyer’s writing talents.
In a Facebook message, Forsyth relayed to Meyer, “I pitched your writing talents to Russ [Cassady] and he said to come to the News Express office tomorrow to talk with him! They do have an opening that they were getting ready to fill and that’s the reason for the rush!”
Meyer reported to the office the Monday morning. Cassady was surprised to see her so early, but brought Meyer to the publisher of the paper, Jeff Vanderbeck. The two men interviewed Meyer. Meyer came home and sent Cassady some writing samples. Vanderbeck called her Wednesday afternoon, asking if she could come in the next day.
“It has been years since I’ve written journalism,” Meyer said after receiving the call. “But I’m excited to have a deadline and a reason to write again, besides it just being for-fun.”
You can look for features written by Meyer in the News-Express starting next week.
I started writing “Saving Vindicity” the summer of 2011. And I finally published it! This book is now available on Amazon for Kindle. Click here to download it for yourself, read it, and leave a review!
I stopped after writing it, because I was waiting for the “right time.” Well, who knew when that would be. After I had a friend read it a few months ago, and she didn’t have much criticism, I decided to go through with it. The marketing stuff scares me, but I thought I’d start out with this blog. 🙂
On this day ten years ago….my mother and I traveled an hour away from my hometown to visit my neurologist to receive my official diagnosis. The results from the spinal tap had come back, and finally, Dr. Nelson would tell us for sure if I had a pinched nerve, MS, or a brain tumor. He had given all three of these as possibilities as to why my entire left side had stopped working normally, but his theory was that I most likely had MS. That is what we knew before we got to Wilmar, MN. I was CONVINCED that it was nothing but a pinched nerve, and for some unknown reason my name had been on the prayer list at church for the last few weeks.
On that day, ten years ago, I was officially diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I was started on some medical steroids, and I was shown how to use the Autoject for my three-times-weekly medicine shots, just under the skin. (It would be another year before I gave myself those shots….and, of course, I was bribed—because what other way is there for a kid to be willing to do something unless they get something in return?)
Since my diagnosis, we have called the anniversary of that day my “celebration of life.” It is the day when I can look back on a year and see all the things I have been able to do, even though I have MS. On this ten-year anniversary of this life-altering diagnosis, I reflect on the things I have accomplished in my life!
1. I’ve been on all sorts of cool vacations and stuff.
Who cares if I had to rent a wheelchair to go Disneyworld? I went to Disneyworld! I’ve also rented wheelchairs at zoos, and even the Minnesota State Fair. Those places take a lot of walking, and I don’t quite have the energy to walk all that way. But I still got to experience it and enjoy my visits! Those places, by the way, have been the only ones I rented a wheelchair for. I can still walk! ….just not super far. I’ve been to the Wisconsin Dells and the Black Hills of South Dakota, just doing the tourist thing because I could. In high school, I went to a youth gathering with a church denomination, and had an AWESOME time with my cousin Jenni and my aunt Sheryl! In college, I went on TWO summer mission projects. Just because I have MS, doesn’t mean I can’t have fun! So I have to plan a little extra, and the south is typically a bad idea in the summer. I STILL LIVE LIFE.
2. In middle school, there were no cheerleaders, and I wanted to be one, so I petitioned and found a coach for middle school basketball cheerleaders!
We were moderately good. Our most difficult move was when one cheerleader stood on the thighs of two other cheerleaders, but we stayed safe. I wasn’t really into watching sports, but I did notice that when our middle school teams had cheerleaders, the whole “crowd” was pretty riled up. You know, for a middle school game. Smiley face. Of course, this cheerleading team kind of left the middle school when I did. I always wanted to be a cheerleader. Our high school had football cheerleading, but by that time, I just wanted to play in the pep band. (We see why I became a music major?)
I was also on the golf team for a few years before the walking became too much for me and I acknowledged that I wasn’t that great. But it was fun!
3. I got my black belt!
Actually, I started Tae Kwon Do in 4th grade. In 7th grade, I got my junior black belt. I was diagnosed with MS in 8th grade. In 9th grade, I got my 2nd degree junior black belt. After I turned 16, sophomore year, I got my first degree adult black belt. And senior year, I got my second degree adult black belt! I was involved in Tae Kwon Do for 8 years; 5 of those years after having MS. I remember difficulty in my first tournament after being diagnosed, but then I just focused on what I COULD do instead of what I COULDN’T. I taught and I was a referee as my level advanced. I became inactive in TKD after I graduated high school, but I will always be a second degree black belt!
4. I finished high school AND college.
One of my college professors once told me that he had never seen such determination in a student. So I wasn’t the best. Who cares? I did as best I could. I was DETERMINED to finish well and I learned a ton while in those college years. I wrote a post about what MS has taught me over the last decade or so here.
5. I played a senior recital of percussion music.
At that time in my life, I had skill, because I was playing on these instruments all the time. I played a piece on the marimba, the timpani, some toms (drums), the vibraphone, and even flower pots! (Videos of all these can be seen on YouTube.) I loved that season in my life, when I could go from instrument to instrument in the percussion section in an empty band room and just PLAY.
6. I’ve had a “grown-up job” since I graduated.
Even before I graduated, I’ve been giving private lessons. According to some of my other music-major friends, I wasn’t charging enough, but still. As soon as I graduated, I got on the substitute teacher list for a few different school districts. And when I got to Kentucky, of course, I began working at a music store—giving lessons! And now I’ve started up this Mary Kay business! Before I was married, I paid my own rent, bought my own food, and loved when Mom and Dad came to Sioux Falls to take me grocery shopping. And now, I don’t get many visits from Mom and Dad (because I currently live, like, 20 hours away), but I still get care packages of coffee brands that aren’t sold in the south. (Thanks, mom!)
7. I’ve written, like, four novels.
Only one I’ve written is decent enough for me to want to publish it, but I do want to publish it! [2015 edit: you can find my first book here.] I also write shortstories and blog posts all the time. And other little things when I feel like it. I’ve kept a journal since I was diagnosed! And things have just kept moving from there. I don’t believe they will ever stop, either.
8. I wrote music for a class in college and directed an ensemble playing it in church one time.
So I maybe didn’t take into consideration that band instruments play better in flats than sharps. And that high school students can’t pick up music as fast as college students. But I was so proud of that piece! I even published my college friends and I playing the piece here on YouTube.
9. I GOT MARRIED!
Just this last summer, if you are keeping up with me at all on this blog. (I’ve kinda talked about it a lot….) Never did I ever think I would meet a man who saw ME past the MS that has been so apparent in my life. I have a limp, which is the most obvious symptom to the world and the first turn-off to anybody who sees that instead of me first (which is pretty much everybody). But Dr. Wile E. Coyote, while he notices my limp, only notices if it’s a bad day or a good day and helps me stretch sometimes. Or if he’s walking with me, and I pull him around. (He’s not as sturdy as my sisters when they’ve walked with me, hehe.) I love Dr. Coyote, my best friend, and he is what I need. But God knew that. And I am privileged to be starting this med school journey with him and trusting the Lord until graduation, and beyond! (Like, forever. Every. Minute.)
10. I have become stronger than I thought possible.
Physically, mentally, and emotionally. I have had to push past the limits of where I would want to quit because something is hard. Being diagnosed so young (at 13), I had to face many decisions and situations that most teens shouldn’t have to face. I thank the good Lord for my always-supportive family who helped me so much!
On this day in ten years, who knows what things I’ll accomplish that I’ll be able to remember? The thing about having MS is that though we have to plan a little more, sometimes sleep a little more, and maybe be careful of what activities we chose to partake in, we still live normal lives. I haven’t felt normal for years, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I would love to wake up one day and the Lord tell me, “You’re cured!” But I know that when people see me walking with a limp, unphased, it brings God more glory.
Anna E Meyer
So I’ve talked about what I’ve learned and what I’ve done, MS wise. What else would you all like to know (MS-wise)?
I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis when I was 13 years old. When I started the testing for everything (MRI, spinal tap, bloodwork, etc), I thought nothing of it. But then I was diagnosed with MS. Those two letters are pretty powerful. Mood swings are a symptom, and I always laugh when I’m taking a poll or something and somebody asks if mood swings got worse with my MS diagnosis. HELLO! I WAS IN PUBERTY! Hehe. But it did hit me pretty hard. I have posts about my diagnosis on this blog, so I’ll just skip to how it has changed my life.
1. It has forced me to rely on God and to trust him way more than I would have otherwise.
My faith has grown SO MUCH. I have very little control over this MS. I can do things to try and keep my body happy, like stretch or exercise, but I don’t have control over spasticity in my leg muscle or when my fingers will get tired or numb. Those things just happen. I have had to rely on the Lord to give me physical strength and energy when I have none. When I just want to crawl back into bed and skip the day, the Lord gives me exactly what I need. I’ve compared my MS with a thorn in my flesh before, but I don’t think of it that way anymore. Yes, it’s there, but it doesn’t always have to have an impact on every single thing that I do. Yes, I do take it into consideration when I’m asked to go for a walk and I reply, “Ehhhhhhh, I shouldn’t,” because I know what the next hours might feel like.
God is my physical, emotional, and spiritual strength when I have none. The MS has shown me I don’t always have physical strength. But, like the parables that Jesus was so good at telling, I have been able to relate it to my emotional and spiritual strength, as well. God is pretty sneaky like that.
2. It has allowed me to see what negativity can become, and weighed in my decision to be happy and positive all the time.
The MS community is split, sadly to say. About half of them cry, “Woe is me!” and have allowed the MS and depression to take over their lives. They are sick with a disease that is ruining their life. Nobody understands. Life sucks, let me drown in the sea of despair. The other half allows positivity to reverberate off of them, no matter what. These are the people that others who have never even heard of MS, look at and they say, “Now there is someone who I’d like to hang out with. Even though she’s in a wheelchair (or uses a cane or walks funny on her own or all these other things that MS can cause), she is a happy person. What an inspiration.”
I have been in the negativity boat. It is heavy, and doesn’t flow easily. It struggles to do everything, and there are many tears that cause the boat to start sinking in the water around it as it takes on water. But I have decided that while sometimes, pity-parties are what a person feels like they need, I don’t want to weigh the world down. I want to lift it up! (Pity parties DO affect others, whether we think they do or not!)
3. It has forced me to come out of my shell.
Kudos to my mother, who made me start talking to doctors and neurologists about what’s going on right away. Although I told her everything, I needed to learn to speak up for myself. I also needed to learn to defend myself, stand up for myself, and not let other people’s opinions be mine. I definitely did that. Now I’m the odd person who walks up to a stranger and says, “Hi. I don’t know you.” I will tell complete strangers about my MS and when they try to pity me, I will shrug and come up with a sassy comeback (that never gets out of my mouth, but in my head, it shuts them down). People can think what they want to think. But the people that know me realize that there is NOTHING to pity. I tell ya, some people!
4. It allowed me to see other people’s hearts first.
Most people, when they first meet me or see me walking on the street, see my limp. At least the people who look on the outside first. I had a bible study leader who once told me he’d never noticed my limp before. Because he looked at my heart. I like people’s hearts more than I like physical appearances. That’s what I see first. And you really ask me how I landed such a great guy? Hint: he saw my heart first, too. We actually fell for each others’ hearts before the rest of us. But, mmhmm. His heart is one sexy organ. And it’s MINE! 🙂
5. It has made me totally empathetic with illnesses and people who are not in the “norm.”
The people who society looks down upon and judges? I see them. I know what it’s like to be judged, and part of that feeling makes me feel a connection with that person, even if they don’t realize it’s there. I have no idea if it’s related or not, but I have a soft spot when working with kids, as well. So not all of them are at the same levels. I teach beginners and advanced students that range all ages. And it’s not always the older ones who are so advanced. Someone has a learning or other physical disability? We’ll work around it. Someone’s self-esteem is shaken? We’ll fix it. Too young? Too old? No such thing. I’m a friend to all, and I will teach anybody. MS? ALS? Autism? Cancer? Who cares. Let’s teach them something!
And I’m sorry for the people who are used to getting special treatment because of some condition. Who are seen by everyone as one way. Because I will see beyond. I believe this is what makes me a good teacher. And giving one-on-one lessons is my FAVORITE.
6. For some reason, my love of writing has been growing!
I don’t know if this is related to the MS or not, but I have been writing a lot more than otherwise. Nobody likes to listen to complaining, so I started writing about it in a journal. I wrote stories about it and overcame some of my own struggles through my characters. And now I write about all sorts of things. Maybe it’s just a coincidence that I can write from a seated position, because I get so tired on my feet all the time. I’ve always embraced the idea that, “I CAN do this now, so I WILL do this until I can’t.” That is why I happily finished my music ed degree and looked forward to being a teacher. Not because I’d be able to do it forever, because I don’t know the future. But because I liked it and I can do it NOW. Which leads me to
7. It has allowed me to value the NOW like never before.
Right now, I can type and write and walk and climb stairs and drive and work. I don’t know what my body will do tomorrow, or in 5 years. Maybe I won’t be able to do half those things. Maybe I’ll be able to do more than I can now. I have no control, and no idea. But right now, I can. That’s all that matters. Right now, I could WALK down the aisle to marry my love. Right now, I can support him as he’s in med school, because right now, that is where we’re at. Years from now, I don’t know where we’ll be living or what I’ll be doing. So right now, we are plugged in to a church. Right now, we are making a lot of close friends. Right now, we are involved in other people’s lives because right now, we may be at the same stages or at the same church or simply in the same neighborhood. Right NOW.
8. Since I was diagnosed, I’ve become an MS Activist.
When I was in middle school and high school, I was in the MS Walk and raised all kind of money for MS research. Since then I have become too busy for the walk (and I don’t have the same connections I did), but I educate as many people as I can about the disease. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge raised awareness and millions of dollars for ALS research. What challenge does anybody have cooked up for MS? Because I am excited to jump on board!
These are a few of the things that came to my head as I was thinking about the MS I have. Dr. Wile E. Coyote is actually learning about the central nervous system and nerves and all sorts of things that he’s been able to connect to MS, and he understands it better in that medical way. With all his resources, he has also been able to see what is up with MS research and what researchers are looking into. Apparently, they are looking deep into genetics, because there is something related to that. But that’s not ALL. It is so interesting listening to Dr. Coyote talk about the stuff he’s learning. Of course, when he starts talking, using all scientific terms, I know he’s no longer talking to me and can tune him out. (He’s only been in school a few months and I’ve learned that!)
Do you or have MS? How has it changed your life? Do you know someone with MS? How has it changed YOUR life, watching them? Do you see changes in their life?
As my blog just recently celebrated its 4th birthday, I decided to give it a facelift. Now the colors of the blog match more of my light-hearted writing style. In my blog, I talk about my faith, my struggles, my life, my writings, and whatever I feel like talking about. I created a new blog, Anna Meyer Music, to focus on that side of things. I actually haven’t been writing much there, though. Not yet, anyway!
I’ve changed my URL in the past (which was not such a smart move, without telling anybody first), but this URL is here to stay. I may one day change the “Smiles Squared” to just my name, but, we’ll just take one step at a time.
Lately, I’ve been writing a LOT, and the Lord has been encouraging me with my writing. I have an actual music job at Sound House Music, giving lessons, but that’s only part time right now. So I shall write. 🙂
Thank you all, my readers, for visiting my blog continually and for keeping up with me!
Yes, I’m a T-Swift fan, and I’m not sorry about it. Ever since she became that new country singer, I was a fan. Still am. I love that she writes her own music and that she’s so personable and nice and everything. Anyway, that’s beside the point. I love this song. Listen to it! And watch the video while you’re at it. 🙂
Here are 8 reasons why:
I love story songs. Possibly because I’ve always liked hearing and telling stories.
She uses classic literature (Romeo & Juliet, The Scarlet Letter, and Pride & Prejudice) as her story.
Some of these classic pieces end in tragedy, but she blends them together to make it a happy ending.
I love the story of P&P. Don’t get me wrong. The book starts out a little too slow for my taste, but have you SEEN the Lizzy Bennet Diaries on YouTube? Fantastic remake. Okay, I love classic literature retold in a modern setting (I kind of write that way, too). The song skips all the stuff where Lizzie won’t talk to Darcy because she feels judged by him, it just gets to the good part where they both love each other. I love how much Darcy loves Lizzie. Anybody with me on that?
I like R&J, too, just not the tragedy part. She took the part where they weren’t supposed to be together and used it, just not all the families killing each other and stuff. Awesome. Romeo and Juliet had an amazing love, too. The romantic in me is sighing softly.
I was also that weird kid in high school who enjoyed reading TSL and analyzing it. T-Swift only took a reference from this book, the part where Hester Prynne, who wears the scarlet letter, is alienated from society. Well, T-Swift kind of just uses the reference to underline the fact her dad didn’t want her seeing Romeo; she was like a scarlet letter to Romeo. (But the rest of the lyrics and where they are from just indicate their love for each other was like in the aforementioned stories.)
I know she took all the happy parts out of these stories. Frankly, when I’m writing shortstories or even the novel that I’m working on, I use the Bible as a basis of my stories, and pull stories from there. But I never pull stories that don’t end so well. For example, in my stories, people don’t die, they just get knocked out (kind of like Batman doesn’t kill).
And, finally, why I love this song: Taylor Swift is an awesome artist in general. I loved her when she was in the country scene, and I just followed her to her pop music. Okay, so I wasn’t a fan of all her heartbreak songs (because they were all so similar), but I loved her happy little love songs. (“Our Song” is another great one of hers, by the way.)
I like story songs because I like stories. What kind of songs do you like the best?
Yesterday, Dr. Wile E. Coyote and I went and (finally) saw The Guardians of the Galaxy. We were discussing it later (of course), and agreed that we like other Marvel movies better. I really like all the Avengers movies. But Guardians tied that in nicely (that is one of my favorite things about Marvel—everything somehow connects!). Anyhoo, I realized that my favorite part of those movies is watching characters grow and develop.
[NOTE: If you haven’t seen Guardians of the Galaxy yet and want to, stop reading. Otherwise, continue.]
Each of the five characters who breaks out of prison, Rocket, Groot, Gamora, Peter, and Drax, grow at some point during the movie.
Groot is the “muscle” of the Rocket-Groot partnership. It’s just he and Rocket. Until they find friends. He begins to grow when he is speaking with Rocket, not about to let their friends just be taken. It is evident when Groot grows his branches around his friends to protect them and utters the words, “We are Groot.” Ugh, my heart freaked out about that. It was so touching! But I knew he’d grow back.
Drax was like one of those always-angry bullies, willing to do whatever it took to “get even.” Drax grew when he told Groot that he had been letting his anger control him—he realized it. Yes, he’d lost. They all had. And it made him more empathetic to the others who had lost much, also.
Rocket was like one of those bullies who you’re not exactly sure that he’s a bully, but he pulls all sorts of stuff on others and is super smart. He DID return to help his friends, which was a big step for him (even though out of everyone, he was the most hesitant). Rocket grew when he was sitting in the midst of Groot’s sticks. Groot had been his only friend. But when Drax comes and pets him, Rocket relaxes. He has lost, but he still has friends!
At the very beginning, we meet Peter Quill as a boy, right until we see him be abducted by a UFO. He protects himself because he doesn’t want to get hurt. He didn’t reach for his mother’s hand, because it might hurt, and he hears her die instead of watching it. He doesn’t stay close to anyone, not even the “family” of men who had abducted him and basically raised him. But he is willing to help Nova, especially when he sees Gamora’s heart to save it. He DOES want to help. We see Quill’s growing toward the end when he holds the stone and reaches for Gamora’s hand, too. At the very end, he opens the package from his mother that he’d been hanging onto for 26 years, because he can finally move on.
These five, who had escaped prison, save Nova. Their hearts have turned around. The five, who hated each other, are now good friends who stand up for each other.
Watching characters grow is one of my favorite parts of a story. This Saturday (today), on this day that I have nine hours to myself (because Dr. Coyote is in the library), I have been working on writing and fixing spots in my story that I’ve been looking at for too long. Maybe it’s time to take a new approach. How are my characters growing? Can I see them all grow? Or do they stay the same?
What do you look for to know if a character is strong or weak? What else could I look at besides character growth? What do you like to see in characters?