#BEDM14: Jammy-Dodger-Man

I have quite an odd relationship with superheroes.

I find the notion of them a little bit odd.

Spider-man. Batman. Superman. Wonder Woman. For a start, I find their names a bit… dull. I guess they were cutting edge names when they were first created, but we’re decades down the line now, it’s all a bit cliché.

But I can forgive them that. (Especially as I’d admit to wanting my own version of that name. I’d probably end up being BiscuitMan – now there’s a superhero I can get on board with. Flying around the world in a never-ending battle against those 4pm munchies)

No, where I really take issue is the supposed goodness of these characters.

They are given great powers, and yes, we all know that with great power comes great responsibility.

But why should I admire these people because they do good things with these great powers. I mean, I guess I’m grateful they’re not doing bad things with it, but it sort of underwhelms me a bit.

Let’s take Buffy Summers as a case in point (another silly name but at least she’s not SlayerGirl) because she’s the superhero that I’m most qualified to comment on.

She’s a superhero for the modern day, and perhaps quite far away from the traditional type of superhero, however on the points I’m going to illustrate now, she’s quite similar.

Among other things which are not really elaborated on, but presumably include heightened senses, and a keen sense of strategy, she is gifted with super strength. Great.

She uses that strength to go around beating up bad guys. Fabulous. Even better.

But she’s also gifted with some great friends. I’m going to pick on Xander in particular.

He’s a bit whiny. I don’t find him particularly attractive, but the key thing is, he’s there with Buffy through seven years of fighting evil.

And he’s normal. He doesn’t have super strength. He’s generally a bit of an idiot. But he tries. And it’s harder for him than it is for Buffy, because he’s not gifted with the same in-born skills.

Sure, he might not achieve everything that Buffy does, he certainly doesn’t save the world as often as she does… but here’s the thing: He does save the world.

When a world-class writer wins the Booker Prize, we’re all pleased for him or her, and we probably all adore the book. But me? I reserve my admiration for the lifeguard that didn’t win, but DID make it to the shortlist.

Conversely – a lifeguard during a storm saving fifteen people from drowning. That’s amazing, I don’t want to do that down, but it IS their job.

It’s what they’re good at. In the same storm, a world-class writer puts down his pen, and without second thought dives in and saves just one person. That’s incredible, and that’s what gets my admiration.

Superheroes come in all shapes and sizes, but what makes a hero super, isn’t the good they achieve with their natural abilities. It’s the good they achieve without them.

Prompt: Which superhero do you identify with and why?

I Was A Teenage Fan-Gurl

Forget Harry Hicks and Memories of a Murder – have I written anything else? What follows is a brief, almost-complete list of other pieces that I have written – or attempted to write.

Schooldays Are Such Fun

One of only two poems that I have written in my career thus far, this was a piece of forced creativity from my English teacher – Mrs Walker. Every member of the class was given the heading ‘Schooldays Are Such Fun’ and asked to write a poem to fit the title.

I still remember part of me rebelled at the thought of poetry being manufactured in this way, and so I wrote a poem about a boy who was bullied all through his school career, an experience which lasted with him all the way into his adult life, and ultimately his suicide.

Mrs Walker praised me highly, and she gave it a reading to the whole class, as well as putting it in pride of place on the wall. The reason it’s important to me, is Mrs Walker was probably the first person to read a piece of my work and declare that I might have a future in writing – and from an English teacher no less. I was thrilled.

I’m sure somewhere, I still have a full copy of the poem – I know I published it to an old LiveJournal account some years back – but I still remember the opening (and closing) verse:

Schooldays are such fun,

Schooldays are so great

What could be better

Than anger, pain and hate?

 

All Rhyme, No Reason

One module of my coursework for my English Language A-level was to write an original piece of fiction of approximately a thousand words in length. This told the story of Mary and Steve and their new friend Luke.

The story is told from Luke’s point of view and starts when Steve wakes up in the forest ‘as naked as the day God made him’. That was literally the first line – and there were several other examples of these subtleties throughout the story which signaled the surprise twist that this was actually the story of Adam and Eve – told through the eyes of the snake.

Luke/Lucifer spoke only in rhyme, which was quite a fun challenge – and to write the story without revealing too soon just what it was about.

I got 98% for that piece of coursework, but even now I still feel slightly concerned that I tried to pass it off as ‘original’ when it was basically a rip off of the first few chapters of the oldest story in the world.

Into The Darkness/A Series of Unfortunate Valentines

For a while, I channeled my creativity into writing fan-fiction for Angel the spin-off of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, obsessed as I was at the time with the beautiful Charisma Carpenter.

I do still have these, and I likely won’t be sharing them, but my reason for mentioning them is that Into The Darkness – a piece set at Cordelia’s funeral where Angel is comforted by a vision of Cordelia herself – is probably the best thing I’ve ever written. Slightly cheating, as it relied on over eight years of back-story to achieve the emotional pay-off.

A Series of Unfortunate Valentines was a challenge I set myself, and tracked ten different Valentines days throughout Angel’s long history. My main challenge was to write this one man throughout his whole history in all his different moods, and I taught myself a lot about characterisation during that. But also, each of the ten sections was written in a different style, including one where – recognising early on my over-reliance on dialogue – that contained no speech at all.

Both pieces were invaluable in terms of teaching myself to write and I’m not ashamed of them, but for a while there, I was a FanGurl.

The Blue Continues

Several years ago, while watching The Curious Case of Benjamin Button I was so bored that I turned to writing poetry. The Blue Continues was partly inspired on the scenes I was being subjected to (truly an awful film, although a great idea). I do still have that, and I will post that in the near future.

There have been others, but these are probably the four most important ones, and almost certainly the only completed works in my catalogue.

The only other pieces in existence are half-hearted attempts at starting new novels with new characters. All of it is in my head, and much of it is in notepads and books that are lying on my bedside table.

Hopefully, they will be used again, in some form or another, because there are some great (even if I do say so myself) ideas in there.

Lastly, I feel like I need to end this post with an apology for my misleading use of the word ‘brief’ in the opening paragraph…