The Author is Dead (AKA the one where Emily takes on CS Lewis from beyond the grave)

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The impact a creator’s intent has on a project is undeniable. Whether it’s a book, a film, a painting or a podcast, it’s the creator’s intent that ultimately shapes it.

I recently had a day off, so whilst tackling the ominous mountain of ironing, I decided to re-watch the Chronicles of Narnia films. I only made it through the first two as I had other things to get done that day, but what surprised me was how much I enjoyed watching these films. Growing up, I adored the books of the Chronicles of Narnia. I got the whole set for my eighth birthday from a family friend, and I devoured them. My favourite was always The Magicians Nephew, as I lived in a terraced house just like the one Diggory and Polly played together in, and I spent years hoping a best friend would just move in next door, and then we would go on magical adventures together. I also loved the character of Jadis. She was one of the first female characters I had come across who was purely self-confident, and although this is obviously framed as a negative trait in the context of the books, I just thought she was really cool. (If you’ll pardon the pun).

However, as I got older, my bubble was broken. I don’t remember who first pointed it out to me, but once I realised the underlying religious tone of this series, I immediately distanced myself from them. They were no longer my favourite childhood books, and I plunged myself into Harry Potter instead. (Which is actually equally problematic in some aspects, but I’ll get to that another time). I went to go see the films when they came out, mostly because I’ll go and see pretty much any fantasy film, but I generally talked about Narnia with a hint of scorn amongst my social circles.

But when I re-watched the films this time around, I was just struck with how much I loved them, all cheesy fantasy tropes aside. I still love the characters, the plot, and honestly even some of the heavy handed moral lessons – such as the importance of not dismissing children, that making mistakes does not make you an intrinsically bad person, and that being kind is just as important as being brave. So honestly, I don’t care about the religious elements to this series! I acknowledge they exist, but they will no longer change the way I love Narnia!

I guess what I’m trying to say (in my usual hyperbolic manner) is that the intent of Lewis may have shaped these books, and perhaps are at the root of some of the themes, but at the end of the day, it’s what I took from these books that is really important. And I believe this can be applied to creative work in general. It’s what you personally take away that is what really matters, as art is the most subjective thing you can get.

Thanks for reading! Sorry I missed last week – it was a bit hectic so I didn’t get chance to upload anything. But regular programming has been restored, and (much like the Backstreet Boys) I am back!

See you soon,

Emily

xxx

Origins (AKA as the one where Emily is a blogging cliché)

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Some say that there are only eight stories, eight tales that repeat themselves throughout history and throughout cultures, changing slightly, but are essentially the same. Now I’m no expert on these things, I haven’t studied nearly enough History or Literature to give a valid judgement as to whether this is true, but the issue of originality is something that I think about constantly.

When I was younger it was my dream to be an author, and as I got older I considered going into film-making. But the one thing that always held me back (other than my habit of procrastinating EVERYTHING) was the fear that I wasn’t creating something original. If something I wrote in any way resembled something I knew existed in media I would abandon the project to the wolves. This meant that I have to yet to actually ever finish even a short story. I kept subconsciously drawing from other books I have read and films I have seen, and so considered myself a terrible creator, and threw in the towel. Now the speed at which I will give up on something deserves a blog-post of it’s own (and will probably get one at some point in the future) but that looming fear that I simply wasn’t an original writer meant I practically gave up writing altogether.

Over the past year or so I have considered what makes an idea original probably far too deeply. But the conclusion I’ve come to is that honestly? It doesn’t matter. I’m not saying you should steal from other people! Respecting other writers and artists is very important! But if you spend all your time fretting over whether what you make is fresh and new you’ll never get anything done. I know it’s a cliché, but there’s a lot to be said for just making things that you enjoy making. If your short story ends up being just like every other sci-fi book you’ve ever read, or your short film accidentally turns out to be the plot of an Adventure Time episode, don’t sweat it. It is better to have something unoriginal created than having crated noting at all. And keep in mind that early human communities invented farming at around the same time, in separate unconnected parts of the globe. So we’ve always been subconsciously unoriginal.

Thanks for reading, now go forth and create!

See you soon,

Emily

xxx