Sometimes I want to be a kid again.
Okay, ALL the time I want to be a kid again. Everything was Magic.
To them, everything has the potential to be a game and all they had to worry about was playing it. Imagination abounds morning, noon and night and they don’t give a rat’s ass who looks on while they battle dragons or fret over princes rescuing them. Only the adventure matters.
As adults, we lose this magic. Real life interrupts the adventure and evil villains like Bills and Work appear to shackle us with eternal slavitude. (Seriously Disney, make a Bills and Work Villain. Make kids NEVER want to grow up!) Thankfully, we have at least one saving grace, besides questionably healthful drinks like whiskey and coffee.
Yep. BOOKS. (Surprise, surprise 😉 )
Anyone can be an arm-chair traveler! We can sleuth as Sherlock and spelunker with a sexy tour guide in our mind, make dinner, pay bills, and come back to the adventure whenever we’re able. We can visit France, eat pan au chocolat, sip une tea citron and water the garden at the same time. Probably the only bonus to being an adult. We’ve learned to multitask. Reading is a wonderful escape from reality and a piece of recaptured childhood.
There’s something about being a kid that is so magical and carefree. But parts of it really should stay as magical memories. The neighbor girl that you played with and moved away (that you later found out became a crack whore). That trip to Disneyland where you only remembered Mr. Toad’s wild ride (and not getting lost in the mirror maze and screaming your head off till someone rescued you), or going to watch a movie with your parents on a SCHOOL NIGHT (then getting sick later from the popcorn and red vines).
As an avid writer and reader, I can extend this concept to books as well. Books that really should have stayed in my childhood out of self-preservation.
A few years ago I started to re-collect all the books I’d read as a child. The ones teacher’s used to read to us in class and book series I read that I enjoyed. I was so excited to have them again and share them with my own kids. I felt it was important to preserve these friends of mine and even re-read a few to refresh my memory.
This was a mistake.
It came with a price. Cuz all Magic does, right Rumple?
The price was that my standards have risen.
Children are fairly easy to please. The bad guys are conquered and the hero wins. The guy gets the girl in the end. The lost puppy finds his way home. Throw in a little action and some kissy scenes and most of the demographic is happy.
We ENJOYED these stories so much. The simplicity of knowing everything will be alright in the end and that there was always another adventure waiting for us on the book shelf.
Not really so satisfying as an adult. Adults require puzzles and challenges and angst. Something a little more meaty than a kissing scene or a skirmish. We need characters that don’t have all the answers immediately after they come up against a problem and that are multi-faceted enough to seem genuine. Adult readers demand more than children or Young Adult books often give.
But it’s still nice to have the memories. Tread softly with childhood my friends. Preserve them like a rare first edition tome.
Alright! Moving on!
So we’ve covered the reader part of this great magical tragedy. What about the WRITER part of it?
Ahhhh yes let’s flip this problem around on the authors.
How many times have you browsed book shelves and found a series you liked so much that binge read all of them in a week? The author held your attention the entire time and you became so engrossed in the plot you missed several meals and held your pee till the very last second? More than a few I bet. You’ve raved about these books to friends and family and wished the writer would come out with more but they don’t.
Well alright. You move on and you shelve the series under “Most Beloved” in your mind. You might re-read them over the years, like visiting good friends and discover some things you never knew or had forgotten. Your opinions might change and characters that were once your favorite may be knocked off their pedestal in favor of the funny side kick or “one-liner Bob”. You still wish there were more books to enjoy, that you didn’t have to quit the adventure so soon.
What happens when the WRITER wishes this?
…..this is where it becomes tricky my friends. And this is where my heart feels so well–disheartened.
So a writer really enjoyed penning the series you raved about. It was well-rounded, poignant, action packed and maybe even won an award. They sweat, toiled, cried and bled and spun straw into solid gold. Probably thousands of dollars worth of gold. Once they finished the series, they sat back and smiled and got through the book hangover with a good long vacation and maybe a book tour a little later.
Jump forward ten years.
They have several more books or series under their belt now. They may or may not have been more successful with them. They may or may not have won awards or had more tours. Sitting in their grand houses in their special writing room, they look around, trying to drum up some inspiration.
Then something catches their eye. It’s THAT series. YOUR series. HMMMM. There was a lot of potential in that series huh? Things seemed to come together so well and there were a lot of things they meant to do with it. Characters they wanted to flesh out with a side story or two or maybe an origin story. And there was the one villain that didn’t quite fit into the first part of the series but maybe with some tweaking—
I honestly don’t know WHY this happens. Really. IT’S A TRAGEDY!!!!!!
I’m going to be truthful and say that I have NEVER come across a book series that has had a successful return to life.
They all were zombiefied versions of an author that was ten years younger, had a different mindset and different circumstances. I feel like when writers try to resuscitate a long dead series that they’re looking at their tux or dress from prom and confidently thinking they can slip back into it with ease, ten years later. “Nothing much has changed! I’m still as fit as ever!”
Guuhhhh. Seeing fat authors in skinny jeans is something you can never un-read. Trust me. It ruins everything and it taints your previous enjoyment of the beloved book series.
They don’t notice that particular brand of magic is gone and the price that has been paid is that they have become a different author.
I made my bestie Owen swear an oath to me. He had to swear to me that when I become successful author and in a decade I even THINK about trying to add on to a series I’ve written, he has to flog me until the idea passes. This is how passionately I believe that once dead, keep dead.
There ARE exceptions of course but this is where tricky comes in.
“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” is one such exception. I say this because the book isn’t about Harry, Draco, Hermione and Ron. It’s about their KIDS. They’re parents in this book and have minimal parts to play. Books written within the same WORLD I think have more success with resuscitation. Genuine “It LIIVVESSSSSS!!!” Frankenstein moments. If someone were to make a continuation of the Narnia series for instance or the Dark Crystal series with only peripheral mentions of characters past, that’s acceptable. (Sorry I can only think of fantasy examples. It is my genre after all.)
Also tricky is when a reader first comes to the series and is able to re-read through the entire old and new halves of it in one go. It may not affect them at all and they simply cannot see anything wrong with the skinny jeans. But to me, it’s like binge watching all the Star Wars. ALL of them. 1 through 7. (Or is it 8 now? I’m losing track.) There are huge glaring differences that CGI and flashy tech simply cannot dazzle me enough to forget.
I’ve learned to be wary when it comes to books from my past. Childhood should be preserved. You should be a kid again of course; just do it the adult way. Don’t try to recapture what you had because you’ll pay the price. It’s not worth it, believe me. I’m writing this blog post to pass on what I’ve learned to you and to my future self. You can agree or disagree. We’re human and have opinions and free will. I’d welcome a comment about your opinions if you feel obliged!
—————DON’T DO IT!!!!!!!! FUTURE JESS, DO. NOT. DO. IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!—————-
😀 Have a pleasant experience my friends and followers. Tread carefully.