Thursday, March 24, 2005

"I am Aslan, and I'm a symbol for God!"

"I am Aslan, and I'm a symbol for God!"

I still remember that's what one of the troupe members said at a performance of Improv Olympics. Over Spring Break, I had the chance to reread some of the Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis. I first read the books when I was young and in love with fantasy, before I knew that Aslan the lion was a symbol for God. This time around, I was able to catch some of Lewis's allusions. (And would I be correct in saying that Aslan is actually a symbol for Christ? I don't know enough about Christianity to say for certain.) From the way Aslan willingly gave himself up to be killed in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (as in the Crucifixion), to the way he allowed only the good creatures to enter the real Narnia before the old one was destroyed in The Last Battle (as in the Apocalypse), I appreciated what Lewis had accomplished because I had a deeper understanding of his stories.

Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, author of Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx, spoke in my long-form nonfiction class last night. I haven't read Random Family yet but have read her piece, "Falling," about the boy who was dropped out of an upper-story window at a Chicago public housing complex.

LeBlanc spent 10 years writing Random Family, supporting herself by borrowing money and basically going into debt. She originally conceived of the book as being a profile of a drug dealer and his empire, and she got an advance from a publisher for that book idea. But she decided to shift the book's focus to some other characters, and several publishers rejected that. Now that the book's been published (by Scribner), it's received a lot of praise and won rewards.

"Really trust what interests you," she said.

It was also nice to hear from someone who has written about topics that are not mainstream. For once, someone was not telling us budding journalists that we had to choose timely topics of interest to a specific audience. By following her instincts as to what would make a good story, LeBlanc was able to, as my teacher Ron Rosenbaum put it, set the peg for what the media would cover.

The class also asked her about the danger of over-reporting. LeBlanc made this comment: "When I sense the possibility of all these disparate things that I've been carrying around ... it [writing] becomes a pleasure." It was nice to know that an established writer could still feel reluctance about starting to write! (That's what I'm experiencing right now as I struggle with two papers I have to write for this class.)

Filed in:


Post a Comment

<< Home