A few Words on Weakness

[reposted from my guest blog entry on the Crimson Romance website]

 

There is an old adage saying that the only time we can be brave, is when we are afraid. The only time we can truly be strong, is when we are weak and fight it, whether we win or not. I have always found this to hold true in my life and in what I have observed. It holds true for the people I admire and for those I wish to emulate. It also applies to the characters in the canon of literature that have captured my heart and my imagination, that have made me want to write.

The stories I have grown up with are those in which the heroes and heroines first had to overcome themselves; and they have left the deepest traces inside of me. There is Bastian in The Never-Ending Story: weak of body and weak-willed when tempted with power. His friend Atreyu is his opposite, raised from birth to bravery and to resist temptations. And yet my heart always stayed with Bastian, through all his bad choices that seemed so understandable at the time all through the end, when he saved himself through weakness. Through letting it all go and allowing Atreyu to be strong and brave for him, without shame. To me, Bastian was the stronger of the two, because strength never once came easily to him.

In this way, I am enamored by weakness in literature and in writing. I have a chronic anxiety disorder und I have battled with my own weakness all my life – I suppose it is no wonder that I am attracted to characters whose strength is a hard-won trait and not just something they have from the start.

Now that I write for others and not just myself, this presented me with some difficulties. I am a feminist and almost too opinionated if there is such a thing. I like to write about women, too, I enjoy that mind-set and the emotional payback. But I was definitely afraid of perpetuating some idea of women as weak, as the ingénue, the princess, the maid tied to a rock waiting for her prince to come and save her. I do not believe in that idea. And yet, I am personally almost completely disinterested in writing about cool, tough, and hard strength.

I watch movies with female warriors and always wonder why a strong woman so often has to be a hot girl playing a male role. And then I remind myself of the truth in the aforementioned saying and I remember how much it means to me.

Only when we are afraid can we be brave. Only from weakness can we be strong. And then I go back, writing characters I like – men and women, both strong and both weak, each in their own way. I am attracted to that weakness, to flaws, fears, pride and cowardice. In the story of Troy – even now I root for Paris not for Hector.

In By the Light of the Moon, Moira, the heroine, starts off at her lowest point; but from there, all she can do is rise. She rises throughout the first book, slowly, step by step finding the strength inside of her, and she continues to search for it and grasp it in the sequel I am writing at present. There is something empowering to me about this journey, something I like to turn to at the end of the day, when I feel weak myself. I love weakness, both when it is overcome and when it catches you again. It is what keeps us human and honest and open. And I love writing about it in all its different manifestations.

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