What is a hero?
I don’t particularly like using that term outside of comic books, honestly. I think it implies something that humanity can’t possibly achieve, something only Superman can have. It suggests a sense of invulnerability. It hints at some form of perfection.
That’s just not realistic.
What? I may be a fiction writer, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be a realist too.
Heroes are such a romanticised notion. They are people that we idealise and polish in our minds until all of the undesirable parts have been smoothed away by our own perceptions and they glitter like little 2-dimensional diamonds.
One of the side-effects of being a writer is that I’m not capable of doing that anymore. After years of dissecting the human psyche and meticulously studying habits and personalities to make believable characters, I can’t look at a person without immediately searching out every aspect of them. I have to make them complex and full and real.
If anything, I do the opposite of romanticising them. I sharpen their rough edges. I make them more complex.
In the end though, I still have people that I admire and respect; people that I look up to and seek to emulate.
When I was a little kid, they looked a bit like this:
Random and ridiculous as that might seem, they do have a common theme. They are all strong, empowered women who have adventures and make a difference in the world.
As I’ve gotten older my “heroes” have changed along with me. Perhaps most importantly, they are real people now instead of fictional characters.
J.K. Rowling, Walt E. Disney, and John and Hank Green.
They still have one thing in common though. They are all creative people who use their imaginations to make an impact on the world.
And that’s the sort of thing I can get behind.