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Chase Night Posts

Not Chosen, Only Willing

The first time I watched Rogue One I didn’t feel much.

The most emotional part of the experience was leaving the theater just as news broke about Carrie Fisher’s heart attack. And I can’t say her subsequent death wasn’t partially responsible for the swell of emotions that caught me off-guard during my second viewing last night. But it wasn’t the only reason.

Some stories just work better the second time around.

The story editor in me wants to disclaim that this is not something writers should generally aspire too. Most pieces of art only get one chance to make a good impression, and a story with unsightly structure rarely gets a polite goodnight hug much less a call-back for date number two. But Star Wars is Star Wars even when it’s Rogue One and skips the iconic opening scroll that could have chopped twenty tedious minutes of set-up off the film’s front end, so I agreed to see it again. Brand trust and all that. And it’s not like I didn’t enjoy it the first time.  I really, really did. We just didn’t spark quite like I’d expected.

I think I damaged my tear ducts trying not to cry in front of my adult nephews last night. (Thanks, toxic masculinity.)

When I wasn’t having to spend half my brain power following the logistics of the mission, I was able to focus on the characters and, most emotionally, their connection to the events of the rest of the story.

Namely, how there would be no rest of the story without them.

The most common praise I’ve heard sung for Rogue One is that it’s not about a chosen one. There’s no special character hand-picked by the Force itself to save the day. Anyone who was willing could have gotten the job done.

And the most oft-lobbed insult is that the structure is all wrong, that it would have benefited tremendously from sticking more closely to Hollywood’s traditional three acts. And from a certain point of view, my original point of view, I’d have to agree. But…

Structure implies destiny.

Structure implies that someone outside of the story is pulling the strings.

This is why structure makes stories so satisfying. It’s only in stories that we can truly fully give ourselves over to the belief that everything is happening for a reason. A solid structure is an author’s promise that even if everyone dies, everything is going to be okay, because the story has been told as intended. Love it or hate it, the author was in control. Nothing was left up to chance. No existential crisis needed, dear reader.

Having seen it again, no one will be able to convince me that the parts of Rogue One that look like a total mess were an accident. I believe it was expertly crafted to show us a world without fate, a world where free will matters because there are more choices than Dark and Light, a world where characters drive the action by taking–as one says in their own words toward the end of the movie–one chance and then another until they’ve all been spent.

That’s life.

Of course the structure is a mess.

When I first heard about Rogue One, I wasn’t sure I was interested in seeing a Star Wars movie without Jedi. Now I want more. I want more stories about the heroes who weren’t chosen, only willing.

It’s what we need right now.

But in the future, it would be nice if more of them, like Finn in The Force Awakens, could get in on a little lightsaber action. I mean, come on. It is supposed to be Star Wars.

A Low-Key List of Things I’d Like to Do in 2017

Last year, high off Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I resolved to only do things that sparked joy in 2016.

That did not work out so well for me.

This year, I’m kicking things off with Sarah Knight’s The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck.

While I refuse to make another resolution–having learned the hard way that expectations are the foundation of disappointment and despair–there are still some things I’d low-key like to do in 2017, and I’m hoping giving less f*cks will get me there.

The first f*ck I’m not going to give is the one where I usually resist posting goals publicly because I prefer failing privately. Because I can always just remove this post like I just removed everything I wrote in 2015 and 2016 because nothing sparks more joy for me than occasionally blank slating this blog that no one actually reads.

So without further adieu, I introduce my non-existent readers to my non-committal list of 2017 To-Dos.

  • Get more people to read Chicken.
  • Finish final draft of The Natural State.
  • Finish first draft of Demoniac.
  • Finish first draft of something else.
  • Reach more indie authors with my Story Taming editorial service.
  • Engage more with the indie author community in general.
  • Read at least 100 books.
  • Redecorate home library.
  • Become 100% proficient in Spanish on Duolingo.
  • Become 25% proficient in another language on Duolingo.
  • Complete the ASPCA course on disaster rescue and relief that I signed up for last January.
  • Complete the Udemy dog training courses I also signed up for last January.
  • Ride my horse.
  • Take more walks with our dogs.
  • Come into some money and take my wife to see Hamilton.
  • Resist the new fascist regime.*

*That one’s not really low-key. Pretty high stakes really. I hope you’ll join me.