Monday, April 9, 2012

Cheaper Than Therapy

I intended to post this last week, but I (possibly willfully) neglected to remember that my kids were off from school for spring break. So. Yeah. No writing for me.

I will preface this somewhat embarrassing post with an excuse: I don’t get a lot of sleep, you dig?

If you took two shots of Nyquil and then did the dizzy bat spin, you’d be at my average, daily level of alertness. I could fall asleep while operating a jackhammer. I am a tired woman, and that makes me a little goofy some of the time.

Fine. Make that a lot of the time. And that’s why I’d say something like, “you dig?” which no one has said since there was still leaded gasoline.

So here we go.

You know this series, Eragon? Yeah, it’s the dragon thing. I don’t like to rag on other writers because this writing business is brutal, and if you’ve managed to complete a manuscript of any kind, even one that says nothing but “All work and no play makes Jack a dull  boy,” then you deserve respect (and now that I’ve put that out there I’ll hypocritically start the ragging process). But OK, when I saw the fourth and final book, Inheritance, had come out and that it was 800+ pages, I emitted a massive, grouchy sigh and thought, Oh, no he di’int. Like he’d purposefully written this book just to make my reading life difficult.  

You know I like me some epic books, and God knows I’m not afraid of a little high fantasy. Did I not read LOTR a couple times? Of course I did. Because in high school you're either out partying with your friends or you're home reading LOTR, and you can figure out which group I fell into easily enough, but, I’m tellin’ you, this Paolini dude? He writes like he’s getting paid by the pound, and worse, the pacing of his books is not far off from actual life. And we all know that the big problem with actual life is that the pacing sucks.

Still, I’d invested a whole lot of time in reading the first three books in the series—so that’s like, what? Roughly about four million pages. And even though I was irritated by the fact that he’s turned his alleged trilogy into a quadrilogy hoping no one would notice, I did want to see how it all turned out. (I’ve coined a term for this phenomenon: Series Completion Compulsion Disorder.) So despite my tiredness and the danger of doing so, I started reading Inheritance.


Oh, yes. I did say danger. I was taking my life into my hands every night because I read in bed, you see, right before I go sleep, and that means I often lose control of the book I’m holding as I nod off. An 800-page book can make quite the dent in your forehead. I’m surprised I didn’t end up in a persistent vegetative state or, at least, with a broken nose.   

I’ll admit I did skip over a few things as I was reading. I had to. OK, maybe not just a few things. Maybe like half the book. But when I FINALLY got to the part of the book where Eragon was about to discover the thing that will help him triumph (the details aren’t important), I swear I slowed up and read every word.

Of course this meant reading an excruciating account of Eragon’s internal struggles because preceding his discovery was what? A pages upon pages long description of his attempts to Know Himself. Yes, one must discover one’s true self, one’s true name, in order to free the trapped something-er-others and save the kingdom from the ultimate evil.

Oh, right. The dragons. There were dragons involved. No. Dragon eggs.

Now this was the point where I lost what little patience I had left for Eragon because he’s done this wandering about, navel-staring thing about a thousand times in the this long series, and I was like, “AGH! GAH! Eragon, fer cryin’ out loud, stop overthinking everything!”

Then everything went black. (I guess shortly after this fit of pique, I fell asleep.)

At some point my husband must have lifted the book off my face because the next thing I knew, I woke up at 3 a.m., roused no doubt by the night time screaming of my youngest hatchling, and here at last is why this is such an embarrassing post:  because when I awoke in the wee hours of the morning, I realized that I recognized MYSELF in Eragon. Yes, I do this exact same thing. Me and Eragon, we were all about the constant contemplation of self and overthinking stuff before acting. This embarrasses me greatly to think about.

But what’s even more embarrassing is that after I realized this, I lay there and thought, “Oh, my God, did I just have a personal insight into my own annoying self because of this dragon-riding dude thinking about his own flaws? What kind of a mega-dorkasaurus am I?”

Apparently a very large one.

So, yeah, there it is. And for this moment of epiphany I owe Mr. Paolini, who I do think is a genuinely talented guy.

I tell ya—reading: it’s cheaper than therapy.

Have you ever realized something about yourself because of your reaction to a character’s behavior, either in a story you read or wrote? If so, were dragons involved?