I've been thinking a lot recently about wonder.
Wikipedia describes the emotional state as something similar to surprise and awe, when something unexpected happens that is deeply tied to joy. That is key. Wonder is a joyful, uplifting feeling.
Wonder is a powerful force. I'd argue, it's one of the biggest draws to speculative fiction in the first place. From the dragons of Game of Thrones to the galaxy-altering heroes of the Avengers. It's in everything that works. The trailer for the upcoming Star Wars film spends nearly half of its time on a single wondrous jump (with Rey using Force magic to leap over a TIE-fighter, and attack mid-air). I visited Disney's Pandora area in Animal Kingdom last year, and that entire section of the park is solely devoted to the wonder felt in the move Avatar, from the landscape to the two rides, to the background music (I have a feeling wonder will play heavily into the Star Wars Disney expansion as well). No focus on the movie's tension or characters, or even anything remotely antagonistic. Simply...wonder.
Wonder is essential. The examples are endless. I've been enjoying Sanderson's Stormlight Archive, and each of the three books so far ended in a moment of absolute wonder. I cheered out loud, causing my wife to turn and give me a look, when reading the climax of Oathbringer. Dorothy steps into Oz and her jaw drops, as does the readers. The children walk through the wardrobe into Narnia and the reader's eyes widen. Frodo gasps as he walks into Lothlorien, and the reader feels it time and again in Middle Earth. And the entire series of Harry Potter, from the moment he meets Hagrid on, is centered around that emotion more than any other. Wonder is essential in speculative fiction.
But why now? Why am I thinking about wonder nonstop? Because while we, as human beings, encounter wonder many times in both fiction and our lives, I think there is only one experience that creates this experience more profoundly than any other. It's the one wondrous moment, deeper than any other, that truly changes you as a person. It's happened to me once before, and it's about to happen again. Any day now, my wife and I will welcome a child into this world.
I cannot wait to have my world turned upside-down. To know that who I am will be reshaped daily by another soul, looking back at me, depending me, and changing me in ways I can't even begin to fathom at this point. This is a sense of awe and joy and deep, deep wonder at the miracle of creation. I may write about wonder and read about wonder and watch shows and movies filled with wonder. Yet, I also know that no words will ever do justice to the deeper, more powerful emotion I'm about to experience.
I can't wait for this wonder-filled moment to arrive.
My wife, son, and I joined my parents for a wonderful week-long Christmas vacation at Disney World. Our favorite park was Animal Kingdom, but each of the parks had its own magical moments, from a VIP Star Wars tour with stormtroopers to Gavin's infectious smile at the stage production of "Finding Nemo." A wonderful trip. Here are some of the photo highlights.
Six years ago today I took a trip to Tintagel. I've shared about the experience many times, which inspired The Scythe Wielder's Secret, and my subsequent writing career. To celebrate I'd like to share some photos, and a never-before-released video of the very moment that led to my writing career.
I was already in an inspiring environment, studying at Oxford. Every week, at least once a week I traveled somewhere I'd never been before. One of the most amazing experiences was a trip to Tintagel, Cornwall. I became stranded there, and the following morning, I struggled against fierce winds to the edge of Barras Nose, the peninsula pictured above. I stood on a cliff, at dawn, fighting fierce winds from every direction. It was the moment that The Scythe Wielder's Secret was born, as well as its main character who is completely alone, fighting opponents in every direction.
Tintagel was truly inspiring. Here is the original blog post, which has the full story, including getting stranding and discovering some of the origins of King Arthur. Yet, the entire four months I spent abroad were equally inspiring. This was less than a month after Rachel came to Rome and Oxford with me, and I'd realized that she was the "one". And even after my studies, I traveled a bit more in Europe, continuing to feel constantly inspired.
As amazing as my experiences abroad were, I can't help feeling that I'm on the edge of something far great and far more exciting. I'm standing on the cliff, overlooking a world of possibilities I have dreamed of my entire writing life. And now, as I take that leap into the unknown, I can only hope that inspiration and wonder follow where I go...
Every time I look at the news, it seems the whole world is a bit crazy lately. Yet, for me personally, my world is also drastically different. Last month, after a lot of careful deliberation and many discussions, I left my job as a theatre teacher. I am now writing full-time, and am also taking care of my son full-time.
My new boss, pictured to the left, is very enthusiastic.
I enjoy working with him, but there are a few difficulties.
For starters, he really likes to throw his weight around. Once he gets on a roll, there's no stopping him. He also drops the ball a lot. I try to pick up the slack, and the ball, and everything else.
The new boss sleeps on the job, and even makes a mess in the office. He's lately got me confused with one of my fellow co-workers ("Mama") and can really throw a fit if we don't listen to his ideas, and sometimes even if we do.
The best thing about my new job situation is inspiration itself. When the news seems too crazy, a few minutes of playtime make everything else seem far away. Besides, he's taught me the most important lesson in life: when everything else fails, try a nap.
Five years ago today, on October 8th, 2011, I visited Tintagel, on the coast of Cornwall. The trip was one of the many side excursions during my semester at Oxford, a period that changed my life in many ways.
I became stranded in Tintagel, and the following morning I climbed to the edge of that rocky piece of land pictured above, fighting fierce winds as I watched the dawn. The experience inspired me to write about a character attacked from all sides, totally alone, and the inspiration quickly evolved to become The Scythe Wielder's Secret.
Today, I am thankful for the experience, and nostalgic for my trip. The entire original blog post about Tintagel, written 5 years ago, with many pictures, can be found HERE
I'm a father now! Here are pictures from our son Gavin's first two weeks.
This year, I wanted to push my Drama Two curriculum, which includes a focus on
world drama. As part of the process, I decided to pair the class with a World Wise
Schools active Peace Corps Volunteer Stephanie Edwards. The students had
previously researched a unit of non-Western theatre and taught the class, focusing
on their findings.
Once paired with Stephanie, my students received videos she had prepared,
showcasing information about her time in the Peace Corps, the local (Guarini)
culture of her village in Paraguay, and other videos relating to what Stephanie was
doing to help improve people’s lives. With each video, my students watched via
Google Classroom, and then wrote a response, leading to larger class discussions
later. My kids also sent Stephanie several email introductions and questions, and
later video interviews. After one video on Guarani myths, my students performed
their own interpretation of the myths.
The most rewarding part of our WWS exchange was when the students got to meet
Stephanie in person. She took a brief vacation, and used one of her vacation days to
come to our school, where she spoke to the kids, shared photos and a native drink
from Paraguay, answered questions, and even presented one of the lessons she’s
worked with in her host village. My principal attended and all of the kids really felt
that the exchange was rewarding and a great way to end our partnership.
I thoroughly enjoyed how WWS gave my students a unique and personal
perspective into another part of the world. I have already registered next year’s
class to participate in WWS again.
Most of my followers know I'm a writer, teacher, director, actor, singer and traveller. But did you also know I really enjoy photography? To welcome in the spring, I walked around my neighborhood taking a few images of the new season. After a brutal winter, and the continuing depressing news about terrorism and a contentious election, it's refreshing to simply enjoy the feeling of renewal and rebirth that comes this time of year. It is also a season of many holidays including Purim, Easter, Passover, Holi, Nowruz, and others, all of which are firmly rooted in the same celebration of renewal, rebirth, and growth.
Happy Spring! Click the pics to enlarge and leave a comment if you enjoy.
Also- coming soon is the YA Scavenger Hunt- it's something totally new for the site that involves hundreds of authors across the world!