I love books. I love authors. I am constantly impressed by what other people put on the page, how tightly they weave a story, how instantaneously they pull me into their characters. If you read my blog at all or follow my Facebook updates, you know this.
Honestly, though, there are only a few authors at whose altars I truly worship. Worship as in stand in awe at the magic they have wrought, at the perfection of their books, at how lost I get when I am in their world.
Roald Dahl is one of these authors.
For his birthday, I thought I’d toss up a few things I think we can learn from Mr. Dahl, whether we’re writers, readers, parents, or even a politician who’s capable of walking around with an open mind. Really. I think there are a few.
Distraction: If you want to read a delicious post about Roald Dahl and FOOD, plus get a RECIPE, check out Jama Rattigan’s birthday post here.
Here we go…
- Chocolate is good. Just ask Charlie.
- Love is also good. Even for us old folks. Read Esio Trot.
- There are bad people in the world. Sometimes they’re witches (read The Witches), sometimes they’re aunts or parents (read James and the Giant Peach and Matilda.) If you try to pretend they don’t exist, that everybody is a kind friend, you aren’t fooling the kids–whether you’re writing for them or parenting them. Or censoring “for” them. Are you really fooling yourself?
- It’s okay to take on these bad people and do battle. Even if you are the child whom other people will tell to stay in your place, be quiet, don’t argue. You have power and strength. Sometimes that strength comes as magic (read Matilda again), and sometimes it comes as intelligence, creativity, and determination (read The BFG). Find your strengths, welcome them, and use them.
- There are also good people out there, who will listen to you, give you friendship, and support you in your battle. Find them, trust them, and stick with them.
- Push yourself. Take risks. Cross the line. Again, this applies to our life-life, but really, really, it applies to our writing life. (Read any of Dahl’s books.) Look at what Roald Dahl wrote. Look at the extreme situations he put his characters in, and look at the extremes they used to save themselves. Did he touch adult nerves? Oh, yes, he did. And does. Do the kids care? They do not. They just fall in love.
- Do that with your writing—Fall. In. Love. I don’t know for a fact how Dahl felt about his own stories. I’m sure he struggled, as we all do, with early drafts, with revision that wasn’t taking him where he wanted to go. But I’m also sure, in my gut, that he could not have written the magic he gave us, without loving what he was doing. Without loving his heroes, without loving their worlds. Yeah, I’m sure.
I know I just had a contest, but, really, I need another one with this post. Leave a comment with the title of your favorite Roald-Dahl book and tell me why. I’ll leave the contest up over the weekend, and I’ll announce a winner on Monday–a winner for a copy of my favorite book by Dahl: The BFG.