Thursday, August 25, 2011
Disneyland: Writing on Soarin' Over California
First of all, thanks for letting me interrupt our normal (has this blog ever been normal?) program for this Disneyland thing. As sentimental, cheesy, and kitschy as Disneyland can be, I'm having so much fun trying to get legitimate writing lessons out of everything. So on to our Disneyland writing lesson, which, today, is from Soarin' Over California. (Ok, so technically that's in California Adventure, but lets move on.)
The lesson from Soarin' is this: Our work as writers is to give people an experience they could never have in their own life.
I won't go into too many details on ride specifics, but suffice it to say that Soarin' is a kind of flight simulation ride, where you fly over tons of different parts of California, and to get the point across about how awesome it is, when we get done my mom always says it comes close to a spiritual experience. Anyway, this type of flying is something everyone dreams about, but can't actually do in real life. I think this is why fiction can be so enriching and emotionally expanding. I've never been shot in the hip by my foster mother, let alone been in foster care, but the girl in the book I'm reading has. I've never fallen in love with my boss or walked my only son down an ash covered post-apocalyptic road or defeated the most powerful dark wizard of all time. But reading about these things gives us vicarious experience, especially when the book is well-written, and it expands our emotional understanding. And in my mind, human understanding is the point of all art and literature.
This also applies to the act of writing. Why not set a story in a place you'll probably never go? Why not take that certain kind of personality that you just can't seem to get along with and model a main character off of it? This probably takes a lot more research and careful thinking, but you may end up producing something special, and at the very least it could provide a wonderful exercise in empathy. Its a good thing, getting out of your comfort zone, right?
So what are your thoughts? What books do you think have really expanded your view of the world? What kinds of people are just so opposite of you, and do you think casting one of them as your protagonist will help you to be more sympathetic?