Monday, September 17, 2012


As I was perusing the pins and likes and posts of the online world the other day, I came across a blog post about some poor, dystopian-burned-out soul, who was begging writers everywhere to--PUH-LEEEASE--put him out of his dystopian misery, and accept the challenge to.... 

...wait for it... 

... write a utopia. 

I admit. I sat there for a moment, contemplating the possibility of actually taking on said challenge myself, before realizing it would be a complete failure from the beginning. Because, lets be honest. It would. Be a failure, that is. A TRUE Utopia would be nigh near impossible to write. 

Don't get me wrong. I admit, someone probably COULD write it. No doubt. 

But it'd be like warm milk and Xanax for an insomniac. Five pages in and every reader would be tossing back some serious Zzzzzzz's! 

The World English Dictionary describes a Utopia as being "any real or imaginary society, or place, state, etc. considered to be perfect or ideal."

Sounds nice, right? But for the purposes of story telling? Mmmm... not so much. Stories NEED conflict. They THRIVE on unrest. And FEED off of discord. Its the truth. You know it. Because there a fight isn't a fight without a bad guy. No one grows without a challenge. Strength isn't achieved without opposition. And lessons can't be learned if everything is always perfect. 

Harry? Katniss? Luke? Frodo? What would these stories BE without their evil counterparts? The Voldermorts, Snows, Darths and creepy, swiveling, all-seeing eyes of doom? 

Well certainly not best sellers, that's for sure!

Same with real life. Everything needs a conflict. Its how we grow. Learn. And push ourselves to achieve greatness. Even something as simple as a football game just wouldn't be the same without an arch rival. EVEN IF it means enduring a heartbreaking loss--prepackaged with rookie mistakes, an incompetent kicker (well, several), six turnovers, a stadium filled with too much red, and a blown overtime--nursing some serious wounds, and enduring another year of humility until the next great battle... even if accepting conflict means all that? 

Totally worth it.

[Who, me? No! Not bitter at all!]

Because, lets be honest... doesn't it make the story THAT much better? The reward THAT much greater? The victory THAT much sweeter? The blood, sweat and tears THAT much more worth it? 

Conflict, people. THAT's what its all about. 

But don't let me be your Johnny Raincloud. Go ahead. Write your Utopia. Good luck. May the focre be with you, and all that jazz. I'm ready with my fuzzy socks, warm milk and comfy blanket. Bring on the nap! 

Until then? I'm off to nurse my wounded BYU pride... I appreciate conflict. But I still hate you, Utah. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

The proverbial question...

So recently, my sister talked me into training for--AND RUNNING--a half marathon with her. 

...[cricket, cricket]...

Now that I look back on our conversation, I'm actually convinced there was some kind of trickery or black magic involved, since...

I. Am. Not. A. Runner.

Lemme lay it down for you....Musician? Yes. Marching band? OH YEAH! Drama? Absolutely. Mock Trial Team? You bettchya. Dancer? All the time. Hiking? Yay! Snowboarding? Every weekend. And although, yes, I DID do track, I was a vaulter. Not a runner. 

In fact, until last week, the longest consecutive run I'd ever done IN MY ENTIRE LIFE, was less than two miles. 

You pickin' up what I'm puttin' down?

But as I've been training for this half marathon of death, I've noticed something. Not my shrinking waistline, or the lessening of the unsightly cottage cheese cellulite on my legs (although those things are--admittedly--nice!)... what I've noticed is an OUTPOURING of support from people. My sister for one, but also complete strangers that I've never met! I'll be trudging along, dragging my broken body down the street at a half trot/crawl that I call like to call "running," when all the sudden a guy taking the trash out will give me a thumbs up. The lady weeding her garden will turn and say "Good for you!" And a neighbor will tell me he wishes he could be like me.  

Now, although I question the mental stability of ANYONE who actually WANTS to be sweaty, sore and limping within an inch of death like me, I do think its incredible how much support I've gotten from complete, random strangers. All just from pushing myself to try a challenge I've never been able to do before. 

It reminds me of the kind of support I get from fellow writers in the blogsphere... you awesome people who I have NEVER met, but regardless, never fail to give the most amazing support whenever I need it. 

This all got me thinking--and, though I might be totally naive for even SUGGESTING this--I really want to believe that people are generally... GOOD. 

I've been wondering about this question, as I've been blowing through just about every dystopian novel I can get my hands on. I love these stories and am completely FASCINATED with how society gets to the "point of no return," so to speak, when things just start going BAD. 

Reading about these post-apocalyptic, struggling societies, and comparing it to my own experiences with people who are so supportive and GOOD, I'm always struck with the question of: 

What ARE we at the core? What is the true nature of human beings? 

Are we GOOD? Or really just BAD?

When stripped of the familiar, secure world in which we live in, most dystopian authors imply that people become savage. Without feeling. Selfish. In a sense: BAD. 

And don't get me wrong, it makes sense. These stories are believable. The characters' reactions to these situations are realistic. 

But am I so wrong for wishing... thinking... hoping... wondering... if, perhaps, they're wrong? If maybe--just maybe--we are all secretly GOOD in our hearts? That the dark side REALLY WOULD loose.... that Lord V and his Death Eaters really DO fail in the face of love... that the President Snows of the world are in the minority?

I dunno. Maybe.

What do YOU think, the faithful throng of readers and writers of the world... 

Are we GOOD or BAD?