25 August 2013


I just spent a week in Florida for my honeymoon.

How we managed to pick the hottest, most humid week in seven years I’m not sure—just lucky, I guess.

Anyhow, we had a great time.

Disney World is made of imagination, adventure and wonder.  It feels magical (as it is supposed to) and even after hours in lines, kids are ready for more.  The adults, not so much sometimes.  The people working there do everything they can to make sure you are having the best time possible.

Let me focus on just one ride.  Star Tours.

Okay, yes, I’m a huge Star Wars geek, and my husband is a fan. They’ve recently redone the Star Tours ride, adding a 3-D aspect as well as having 54 different combinations of scenes that you could go through.

We went on it five times and didn’t even see half of the options for the combinations.

It was so much fun! My little geek heart soared, and if we’d had more time I would have gone another five times.

Another spot that made me giddy was The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  All I can say is awesome.  To see a place I’ve read about for years and years pretty much come alive was quite the experience. And to be surrounded by people who are talking about the shops, the jokes, the candy, the butter beer and the way to get into Dumbledor’s office (half of them in British accents) was a once in a lifetime experience.

So those were my geek out moments. I loved every minute of it.

However, on our last day we went to the Kennedy Space Center.  My husband is a huge science/math/space geek, and this was his one request for the trip.  I’d been there before, when I was about 12 years old, but didn’t remember much.

A few years ago they retired the Space Shuttle program.  In one of the buildings we learned about the last flight to upgrade the Hubble Telescope.  They talked a bunch about the program, the engineering and all of the missions. It was great.  The screen the movie had been playing on went black, then translucent, and right behind it they had the Space Shuttle Atlantis.

I walked into the same room as a Space Shuttle that had been off of the earth 33 times.

I started to cry.  It was overwhelming to think about all of the time, effort, engineering and money that had gotten us to this point.  The sheer though process of making a shuttle that could be reused was innovative and completely new.  There are more than 24,000 separate and unique (and numbered) tiles on the Atlantis that keep it from exploding when it comes back into the atmosphere. And the people at NASA did it along with help from companies all over the country, maybe even the world.

This was real. Not like Space Mountain (which I love), but real life ingenuity and tenacity.

My writer’s mind paused and asked, “So if this is the reaction you get from something real, why do you love stories so much? Why do they matter?”

I got stunk on the reason, and I still don’t have a great answer to the question. I’m thinking about it.

But I’d love to hear your opinion on the subject. Please leave a comment below. I'm seriously curious.


Cindy said...

Stories stretch our imagination in ways that lead to the real life innovations. How many astronauts and counterparts have cited science fiction stories as his inspiration to enter that field of work? How many things do we have now, largely due to stories like Star Trek? Stories teach us that we can be more than who we are. They help give us the hope of better days to come.

Stacey said...

Ditto what Cindy said.
Also, we can make stories end the way we want or we can make characters do the things we wish we could do in real life. Sometimes they just give us the little escape from reality that we need to be able to face the next day.

Nancy DiMauro said...

First congrats and I hope you had a wonderful honeymoon.

We dive into stories and the fantasy worlds they create (regardless of genre) for that same emotional impact. The best stories are the ones that touch us. The best times in our lives are the ones that leave a lasting emotional mark as well. Stories also allow us to explore social issues from the "safety" of fantasy or sci fi. Many of the original Trek issues explore the social issues of the time. It's one of the reasons the series still resonates today. We love stories because it lets us explore what makes us human.

Kim May said...

I agree with Nancy. I love stories that affect me with the same intensity as real life.

Lace and Books said...

Stories matter because people matter and we'd like to think this life matters.

Humans have always made up stories to explain, understand, and connect with real life. Think of all the gods that have existed in the history of the world, but most of their stories are very human tales. Yes, we have science now, but it serves the same purpose as the shamen of old. to explain the world around us. A portal through witch we connect to the greater universe. Science is a type of storytelling. And Storytelling can be the first step to a new reality.

Stories are made up of all the same elements, just like life is made up of all those elements on that chart hanging in Rick's classroom.
The characters of myth or Marvel are experiencing everyday human things; love, hate, fear, need, sorrow.... When a writer or an actor or whoever takes those basics and puts them in a new world (be it SCIFI or romance) our shared feelings and realities can be seen in a new light. Maybe even understood better.

Example: (And I'm sorry it is a Loki ref, but it's the one that came to mind)

An online friend (who is 17) posted a pic of Loki from right at the end of the movie Thor and said, "this is when he turns evil". I wrote her back explaining that no, that is the moment that he chooses to die; to commit suicide. That all the hurt, all the disappointments, the belittlement at the hands of "friends" and family, all the baggage he'd been swallowing wasn't worth living with. That he was never going to be good enough in the eyes of the people that mattered the most to him. It was surviving and having to live with it all that cracked him to the point of not caring if he was good or bad. What's the point if nobody cared or will miss me.

I then asked her to think of those smart kids or gay kids or just different kids who kill themselves when bullied or who bring a gun to school. THAT is Loki.

Needless to say she understood depression, suicide, and what it was like to be a bullied kid a little bit more.

THAT is why we write stories even after experiencing amazing things in real life. We read (and write and watch movies) to know we are not alone. To share in the experiences of life in a safe way.

It's why Shakespeare is still loved and performed. Why Star Wars, LOTR, Dr Who, Jane Austin, Sherlock Holmes, etc etc etc are so timeless and universe despite being fiction.

Are all stories heavy on the thinking? No - but all stories say something to us and change our POV a little. Even if we are not paying attention and only read it/watched it for the popcorn.

You asked...I hope I didn't hurt your head too much.

Liesel Hill said...

I think by loving stories, we appreciate reality more. It helps us learn how to both hope for better and have a positive outlook, as well as deal with things better when they go wrong. If you didn't love stories of human tenacity and overcoming obstacles and the like so much, you probably wouldn't have had that reaction to the real life evidence of such stories. Great post!

kh said...

WOW - too deep of a question for me. You're such a good story teller that you make reality much more interesting than it really is

Crystal Collier said...

LOL! I have news for you: that was definitely not the hottest and most humid week of the year. (<--Says the local yokel.)

Why do I love stories so much? Because sometimes life is just too intense. I need the break from reality. I need to see other struggles and perspectives to make me appreciate what I'm facing personally. Every time I read a good book, I come away renewed and ready to face the challenge of the day.

-Jo- said...

Crystal, just let me believe that it was the worst weather ever, so I don't feel like such a desert pansy!

Thanks everyone for your comments. I pretty much agree, and am still in awe of the reaction the Space Center produced. I guess life is stranger than fiction, but we authors are trying to best that!