What The Movie Musical Les Miserables Did For Me As A Creative Writer

There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who have seen and love 2012 Les Miserables, and those who would love it once they have seen it. Even if you are one of those who have only seen The Hobbit at theatres, I’m sure you have seen the movie poster for Le Miz. It is the iconic portrait of a young Cosette with her blond hair blown aside. And on the poster, these four words stand out: Fight, Dream, Hope, Love.

Fight

There is much said about the struggling artist. While much of this deals with his poverty, it is also a comment on the artist’s internal struggle to create in a manner that is satisfactory to the artist. Let’s face it, your family will always like your book, and your mother is already convinced that you are the best writer she has ever read. But convincing others of your genius is a struggle.

The writer as artist has to fight against outside criticisms and inward self-doubt. We have to fight for our place in the market while helping other writers succeed (or so we should). More than anything else, the writer as to conquer that greatest of mental demons, that terrible voice from within that often chides us for thinking we’re good enough to write. Writers must be fighters.

Dream

Writers are dreamers in every sense. I personally know that my best story ideas come from my sleeping dreams. But writers are also the greatest daydreamers, too. Some daydream of success and profit. They can see their book on top of the Times list. They can envision themselves being interviewed by Oprah. They can imagine the ginormous check they get from all of their sales.

But there is a more basic type of dreaming that writers engage in, one which involves more than material success. There is more to dreaming than aspirations. There is an insight, almost a second sight, with which great writers are endowed. The best writers can see the human condition better than other people can. The universal fragility and grandurity of existing between the veils is more keenly dreamt by the writer than by the non-aesthete.

Hope

True hope is not just a simple desire of the way we would like for it to be. That is a lazy man’s blind hope. Our genuine hope is an earnest expectation of what we are certain things shall be based upon our clear understanding of the present and our steps as we direct them based from this point.

As writers, we all intend to accomplish something. This accomplishment is more than being king of the literary mountain. We can hope because we both plan and execute. Novels do not write themselves. We schedule time for writing, and then we sit down and write. And not just the completion of a manuscript, but writers want their stories to have some sort of impact on their readers. This is the hope of every writer.

Love

Life is filled with undesirable tasks. We all take out the trash, write thank you cards for gifts, clean out our car, and go to dental checkups, not because we want to, but because we have to. Writing is not one of those burdensome obligations. We get to write. We love to write. It is a necessity only in that it is a self-imposed compulsion.

I love being a writer. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Other artist feel the same way about their music or painting. If I don’t love writing, then I will never give in to any real commitment to it. Without the passion, any covenant to compose is drafted on the air and signed in invisible ink that vanishes as soon as the stillborn desire fades away.

Be sure you see Le Miz while it’s in theatres. Sing along. Have a nice cry. And don’t forget that as a person and as an artist you must always Fight, Dream, Hope, & Love.

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