I recently read a blog entry called, “Reboots, Kids and their Interests,” by Matthew McNish over on Project Mayhem. In it the author examines how the new Star Trek films have made his children fans of the series, and it got me thinking about the things we love in childhood and how, as writers, we pass those loves on to our readers.
Star Trek, Star Wars and anything that featured the stars was high on my list of things to watch or read as a child, born of a natural fascination with “the great beyond” and fueled by the space shuttle era and a fifth grade teacher who shared that passion.
I also loved journeys, and the more exotic the better, where the main character faced continual obstacles and conquered the challenges with daring and ingenuity. So what if this happens to be the plot line for most stories and films? It captivated me then and still does.
Now when these two things come together – the stars and an exciting, challenging journey, well it’s no wonder I was a Trekkie, I mean a Jedi, well, you get the picture. The new Star Trek films (2009 and 2013) by J.J. Abrams kindled that same excitement I felt as a kid. When I saw the first film in 2009, I couldn’t believe how closely the new characters mimicked the old, and yet in their own distinct ways. Abrams took a beloved franchise and rebirthed it into something the next generation (yup, pun intended) could enjoy. He captured a new generation of Trekkies.
As writers, isn’t that what we’re trying to do? To captivate our readers with the things that captivate us? To pass on a love of faraway places or stars or whatever, to children who can take those things and remake them in their own vision, so that new and old combine into something that will inspire the generation after them?
Maybe I’m reaching for the stars here, but I can’t help it. I believe the reasons we write and the subjects we gravitate towards are seeded in our childhood. When we’re adults, we look back on those childhood devotions and either love them or scorn them. And you’re a writer, you write about them either way. In doing so, you’re boldly going where no one has gone before (had to go there), but recording that journey for later generations to be captivated and inspired to go even more boldly forward.