Over at the newly minted Superversive blog, we have a guest post written by 16 year old author (and family friend), April Freeman Lost In La La Land:
When I was quite young, my mom read my brothers and I The Tale of Despereaux. It is one of those stories that you remember loving, and though you may not remember exactly why or how the plot went, it still sticks with you. I think Despereaux could be considered a surperversive book, that is the opposite of subversive as explained by The Superversive Literary Movement. But it’s not just the book I want to talk about today.
There is a scene in which the little mouse hero has been banished to the dungeon by the Mouse Council, one of the members being his father. They banished Despereaux because he loved the Princess, broke the law by showing himself to her, a human, and would not denounce her. So he is cast down the steps of the dungeon and walks on, to what would be his death. He finds comfort from the crushing darkness and despair around him by reciting to himself the story he had read hundreds of times in the castle library. He tells himself the story of the brave knight, because he wants to be brave for his beloved Princess Pea.
What Despereaux does not know is that the jailer, Gregory, heard him. He picked up the mouse, and in that act saved him from the dungeon rats that would have eagerly eaten him. Gregory had never saved any of the mice before, and when Despereaux asks why Gregory would save him, the old jailer replies, “Because you, mouse, can tell Gregory a story. Stories are light. Light is precious in a world so dark. Begin at the beginning. Tell Gregory a story. Make some light.”
Reading this book again, many years later and further on in my journey as a writer, this passage rings very true for me. For what else is a good book, than light in the darkness?
The post also has this to say:
At the very end, there is a last passage where the author is talking to us, much as a story teller might talk to the children scattered at her feet, listening to the tale. It says:
Do you remember when Despereaux was in the jailers’s hand, whispering a story in the old man’s ear? I would like it very much if you thought of me as a mouse telling you a story, with my the whole of my heart, whispering it in your ear in order to save myself from the darkness, and to save you from the darkness, too. “Stories are light,” Gregory the jailer told Despereaux. Reader, I hope you have found some light here.
Most of us aren’t looking for an earth-shattering, life-rocking outcomes when we pick up a book, but sometimes that is exactly what we get. Sometimes on a smaller scale, and sometimes without even realizing it at first. Most readers just want to be entertained, which of course we should do. But even as we do this, we want to entertain them with something wholesome, something good, something filled with light, because even entertainment can be a sort of light.
Remember to offer the light, but don’t force it upon them. Writing in a pious, preachy, or lecturing way is very annoying and gets in the way of the story. People want a story, not a sermon.
Read the whole thing, dear reader: