thoughts on heaven

I have heard it credited to Saint Augustine: “Make me chaste — but not yet.”

For a long time, that was my thought about heaven.  I wanted to go there someday— but definitely not today.

Heaven scared me, and it still does sometimes.  There is so much I don’t understand about it:

* How can something last forever?
* Won’t it get boring?
* If all imperfection is gone, who will I even be?
* Will we have goals?
* Will I still write?
* Will there be any challenges?
* Will I interact with others or only be focused on God?

Even now, thinking about it has made me a little uneasy.

My co-worker believes that heaven will be on earth.  I seem to think it will be entirely separate.  I know that I will be with Christ, and since He is my true love, I will be happy.  But I still get a little scared sometimes.  I’m so used to this earth, as messed up and sinful as it is.  I know what it is like to desire things and work for them and how to draft and re-draft chapters in a bookstore on the weekends.

I used to be even more scared of heaven– before I read The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis, that culminating seventh and final book of the Narnia series.  I won’t tell you what happens in it (my favorite book), but it eases my mind about heaven.  It reminds me not of the questions I have but of the JOY I’ll experience being in the presence of my Savior.

my thoughts on fan fiction

Several things have recently come together to inspire me to write this post.  First of all, you should know that, in general, I have not been the biggest supporter of fan fiction because

1. It is usually bad.
2. Or dirty.
3. And I’d rather invent my own characters and world instead of piggybacking on someone else’s.

In fact, I have gone so far as to write a scene describing it as such:

The leader of Emmaus University’s brand-new fan fiction club was named Mallory Stevens, and somehow I’d agreed to be the club advisor.  “Can it be crossover fan fiction?” one girl asked us at the sign-up table on Club Day.  “I have some stories where Harry Potter stumbles through a wardrobe at Hogwarts and finds himself in Narnia.”

“That sounds great!” Mallory gushed, while I inwardly cringed.  “Are the Pevensies there too?”

“Yeah,” said the girl, flushing with pride, “I think Harry and Lucy are going to fall in love.  Maybe.  We’ll see.”  She bared her teeth when she smiled, looking more than a little pleased with herself.  I smiled back, but really, I was mortified that one of my creative writing professors would walk by at any moment and see that I was mopping the floors in literary hell.

But is that assessment too harsh?

Just last week John Green (whom I adore, and whose story The Fault in Our Stars was the inspiration for my novel) posted a video with his thoughts on fan fiction:

To summarize, he rather likes it because it allows people to explore areas the author didn’t without making it canon: “to write and write creatively without there being an authoritative voice about the story.”  Fair enough.

And, let’s be honest, I already do this.  Just the other week I posted this story, exploring life after The Last Battle.  And then, last Monday, I wrote a whole post about how I think about the Narnia characters outside of just the books, including– and I quote— “Because I have the heart of a thirteen-year-old teenybopper, I often wonder about the love story of the king and queen of Archenland.  There is so much teenage angst in it that it almost makes me want to write fan fiction.  Almost.”

Writing and posting “Nine Names” plus thinking about Cor and Aravis plus John Green’s video all intersected in such a way that …

I have to admit …

this week, I chose to write some fan fiction.

I decided to try a writing prompt from fanfiction.net, one where I’m given 50 words/themes, and my challenge is to write one sentence about each.  I liked this idea because it was different, intriguing, and because it was a challenge to write fifty tiny vignettes that somehow gave snapshots into a story and yet were not really a story themselves— not quite.

I am embarrassed, but without further ado, I present to you my Narnia fan fiction, which– to be honest– I hope is the last of its kind.  🙂

#01 – Comfort

In those early weeks at Anvaard, she’d nightmare and cry out in her sleep, but when she’d sit up in her bed, slick with sweat and heart pounding louder than the hooves of the 200-horse army of her dreams, he’d be there—silent in the corner, gentle but with a newfound ferocity in his eyes.

#02 – Kiss

He didn’t speak in those midnight wakings but would take her small, dark hand into his pale one and wait for her breathing to slow, and when it did, he’d press his mouth to her fingers and leave her, knowing she’d sleep soundly till morning.

#03 – Soft

He didn’t know that though her breathing slowed, her heart always beat faster.

#04 – Pain

Daylight was a different story: “At least when you’re sleeping, you quit arguing,” Cor muttered after yet another fight.

#05 – Potatoes

She stares at them warily—back home, they were flavored with garlic and onion and made her eyes sting—but next Corrin passes a big dish of yellow butter, and she’s grateful for these northern lands.

#06 – Rain

It was so dry on the other side of the desert that on the first night of rain, she marches straight out into it and laughs.

#07 – Chocolate

It takes Corrin twenty minutes to convince them to bite into the horrid-looking brown thing.

#08 – Happiness

There are nights they spend around the fire sharing poetry and songs, and when Corrin embellishes his stories, Cor and Aravis catch each other’s eye across the fire and smirk.

#09 – Telephone

“I’m only telling you what Hwin told me Bree told her he’d heard Cor mention to the king,” Corrin says, “but you can make of it what you will.”

#10 – Ears

Why do her ears and face get hot when she thinks of him talking to his father about her?

#11 – Name

One night he stays after her nightmare and hears her whisper, “Shasta,” before she smiles in her sleep.

#12 – Sensual

He didn’t tell anyone about his dream that night, especially not Corrin.

#13 – Death

He’s been thinking of his mother a lot and what she’d think of him now—even taller than Corrin and (secretly) enjoying his education.

#14 – Sex

The Queens of Narnia give Aravis her first exposure to late-night girl-talk, and the young Tarkheena is grateful they can’t see her blush in the darkness of the room.

#15 – Touch

Another argument; only this time, he closes his eyes and takes her hand.

#16 – Weakness

She didn’t want him to let go, but her pride made her withdraw.

#17 – Tears

“Just something in my eye,” Cor tells his twin, who would be merciless.

#18 – Speed

When she needs to be alone, she rides like a maniac up into the mountains.

#19 – Wind

The wind rolls down from Stormness Head like a gale, like a baptism.

#20 – Freedom

Only once has she gone to the border, staring southward across the desert, realizing for the first time that she had been in slavery there too.

#21 – Life

She returns to Anvaard with new purpose, a clearer mind.

#22 – Jealousy

When he sees Corrin and Aravis whispering on the terrace, he seethes, but when they hug before parting, it’s a night for the history books: for once, it’s he who knocks his brother down.

#23 – Hands

Aravis is small but strong, and she pulls Cor off of his brother, shouting at him while he shouts at Corrin while Corrin just laughs and laughs.

#24 – Taste

“Listen to me, you idiot!” she says, taking his face in her hands and shutting him up by putting her mouth over his.

#25 – Devotion

His response is … enthusiastic.

#26 – Forever

The two retreat to the garden to share overdue truths.

#27 – Blood

King Lune only rolls his eyes when he sees Corrin’s bruises the next morning; Cor apologizes handsomely to his brother without letting go of her hand.

#28 – Sickness

Joy floods the king’s heart, soaking the cough that sits in his chest like a sponge.

#29 – Melody

She grins when she hears the crown-prince whistling after breakfast, knowing she is the reason for the tune.

#30 – Star

“Your father says they are people,” she whispers to him while she stares at the sky.  “Can you imagine such beauty?”  He says, “Yes,” and he is looking at her.

#31 – Home

She was confused at first over where to call home; then she dreamed of the lion and knew.

#32 – Confusion

There is concern in all their eyes when the king mutters nonsense before it’s even dark.

#33 – Fear

“Something’s wrong with Father,” Corrin says, and it’s that tone of voice—serious, like Corrin never is—that scares Cor the most.

#34 – Lightning/Thunder

They hold each other through the storm, and when it grows late, neither wants to leave.

#35 – Bonds

“Let’s get married,” he whispers, “so that we can stay like this.”  “That almost sounds like a proposal,” she responds, an eyebrow raised, intrigued.

#36 – Market

Aravis asks Bree if she should do some of their old-fashioned “raiding” for the gown, and he grins, remembering.

#37 – Technology

Lasaraleen sends her regrets, but also a present: a most interesting wind-up toy that reminds Aravis of her friend’s pet monkey; they hide it in Corrin’s room.

#38 – Gift

The king looks strong on his son’s wedding day, and he tears up as he tells her, “The lion returned him safely to me; today I give him to you.”

#39 – Smile

He will never forget the way she looked at him while he made his promise: all at once, he saw her as a child, a proud Tarkheena, a humbled princess, a future queen and mother, and he loved all of the girl she had been and was now and would be.

#40 – Innocence

They are awkward with each other that first night, but sweet; the future king and queen have a few things to figure out first before they can manage a kingdom.

#41 – Completion

She purrs like a cat as she curls into his side to sleep, and he has never been happier.

#42 – Clouds

The fog from Stormness is thick on the day they leave for their honeymoon in Terebinthia; Aravis wonders if it’s a sign, but Cor can’t fear the fog, not anymore.

#43 – Sky

“Their majesties are missing out on the good views, shut up in their cabin as they’ve been,” comments one sailor.  “I think they rather like the views inside,” quips another with a wink.

#44 – Heaven

This is perfect, to discover each other while carried on the waves of the Great Eastern Ocean.

#45 – Hell

But the lion meets them with hard news on the island; to put it quite gently, King Lune has gone home to Aslan’s country.

#46 – Sun

How can it shine when his father is gone?  “Because he is not gone,” she tells him, though he didn’t ask aloud.

#47 – Moon

“I’m not ready to be king,” he whispers on the deck that night as they return to Archenland.

#48 – Waves

The ship rocks gently as a cradle, reminding him that he is safe between those great paws.

#49 – Hair

When he returns to the cabin, she is sleeping soundly, her dark hair lying silken on the pillow.  She doesn’t nightmare anymore, he realizes, then understands it’s because of him.

#50 – Supernova

The lion’s strength fills him like light, like brilliance.

deviantART by ~TealHeadlight

characters beyond the books

I have to confess that I think about characters far beyond what actually appears in the written pages of books.  My favorite characters to think and dream about are those from Narnia.

Edmund.  To me, the most fascinating character in the whole series.  My favorite line of his is when he says, “But even a traitor may mend.  I have known one that did.”  And he looked very thoughtful, or so the book tells us.  I read layers and layers into that.  I love to think about Edmund returned to England after years spent as a king in Narnia, about that crazy heart change that occured.  I wonder what his parents thought of the change when they saw him again after the air raids were over, if they thought it was the Professor who had been a good influence, or that country air, or the opportunity to explore a big house.  I picture that Edmund was a quieter boy when he returned, and that when he spoke, it was often profound.  He had, after all, been an adult– and royalty– a warrior and known for his commitment to justice.

Susan.  I have dedicated much time to pondering “The Problem of Susan,” which we encounted in The Last Battle.  Where did things go wrong for Susan?  And how could she turn her back on it all when she had been present at the Stone Table?  I have struggled through it the best way I can– by writing, both a poem and a short story.

Aravis and Cor.  Because I have the heart of a thirteen-year-old teenybopper, I often wonder about the love story of the king and queen of Archenland.  All Lewis tells us is that they argued so much and made up so much that, when they got older, they got married so as to go on doing it more conveniently.  This is one of the few love stories in the Narnia series (the only other I can think of is Caspian and Ramandu’s daughter), so naturally, I am drawn to it.  I can’t help but think that Cor, in his quieter ways, thought that she would fall for his twin brother.  There is so much teenage angst in it that it almost makes me want to write fan fiction.  Almost.

Professor Kirke.  I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall listening to the conversation between the Pevensies and the professor after their long sojourn in Narnia.  Can you even imagine Digory’s great relief when he learned that they had witnessed the demise of Jadis, whose presence in Narnia can be traced directly back to the professor’s youth?  We obviously get no glimpse into this, since The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was written before The Magician’s Nephew.  Lewis was well aware that there were gaps and inconsistencies in his series, and even intended to go back and fix them, but it just never happened.

Anyway, you already knew I was a nerd.  Now you know that I’m kind of beyond hope of any rescue from it.  In fact, it’s Friday night, and I’m sitting alone in Dunn Bros, looking at Narnia fan art.  It’s all over for me. Haha!

deviantART by ~secrethope

(On a sidenote, there is a startling amount of Lucy-Tumnus pairing.  Um, gross.  Really, really gross.)

how to offend a book lover

Books matter to me.  So, so much.

So when my friend, who is halfway through The Book Thief, asked, “Now, who is Rudy again?” I about died.

Now, I deeply love this friend; she is brilliant and fun and cares so much about people and justice and mercy.  But come on.  Who is RUDY?  WHO IS RUDY STEINER??!  Why are you reading this book if you can’t remember one of the MAIN CHARACTERS?!!!  Where is the RESPECT?

Okay, done ranting.  I think.

I am not this way with all books– but there are certain, choice stories where I am quite literally offended if a friend doesn’t like them, almost as if I were the author.  When my friend Jessica read Narnia for the first time, I was upfront with her: “Please tell me you liked them.  I will actually be offended if you didn’t.”  She did.  Phew.

When my roommate told me that The Fault in Our Stars was “good, but not great,” I didn’t want to throw her off a cliff or anything.  When my sister couldn’t get into The Sky is Everywhere, I didn’t want to disown her.  I don’t have to worry about what I’d do to someone who didn’t like Stargirl because I have never met such a fool.

But The Chronicles of Narnia, The Book Thief, Peace Like a River … do not disrespect these stories.

Or else feel my wrath. 🙂