When I Need A Pick Me Up, by my friend Ryan King

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

The Other Hero

(Originally 1/6/07)

It only occurred to me after once or twice reading a response from my Other Hero that calling him my "Other" Hero may have been a bit of a slight. That would be chiefly because I'm an idiot. I can't muster enough anti-Me to insult a Hero. Offend, embarrass, and chase away, maybe -- but insult? No.

I had been taken by surprise when I realized that Alex was my hero and I was typing quickly, so after I didn't qualify the primary hero as my 'Spandex Hero' or my 'Superpowered Hero', I needed a quick qualifier to differentiate Alex from Matt. Then of course I got swept into Feedback's superpowered wake, the title stuck, and I had to give Alex a merciful break from my lecherous fanboy advances.

That ends as of this post. I am recaptured by the Heroism of my Other Hero once again.

To recap, my Other Hero earned this title because I went through his Journal and discovered a funny, honest, sensitive and talented young man who had the kind of accomplishments at 29 that I could only dream of. [Grover] And he was cute, too![/Grover] Then suddenly, within weeks of my discovering his innards, he announced that he had a story accepted by Asimov's! But I would have to wait until I got to read it.

Well, last night and today, I read it.

Whatever am I going to do with this foolish little heart of mine? I lose it so easily. I suspected that Alex's self-scouring and self-scrutiny was routinely what we writers partake in, true or no (yes, I'm daring to put myself in his category. That's much more for my uplift than an attempt to drag him down to my level), and I was right. His story is what I expected it to be.

Which is; REAL.

When I say "real", I mean it is on THAT level. There are those of us who dream, and those of us who publish. There is a difference in the work of a fanfiction writer on the internet, and someone who's (whose?) work passes across an editor's desk so that when the editor looks at it they think, "Which issue/month/imprint schedule will we fit this one into?"

Alex is a real writer. When he submitted work to Clarion, they accepted him. When he submitted to Asimov's, they published him.

Now, did I like the story?

On so many levels. On so many.

To begin with, his main protagonist is a black female. This I figured when the character referred in her inner dialog to "white America". White people rarely think about their America as 'white'. For white people, white is just the way it is. Normal. No need to point it out. Every other seems to need it, though. "My black friend", "my deaf friend", "my Italian friend." This was an unexpected scored point to Alex. He is aware of minds that think other to his own. Thank you, Alex.

Then, his protagonist was introduced as a vulnerable child. You want me on-board? Show me a child who is in need, who faces a disadvantage. That, after all, is how I came into the world.

Then, Alex is a humorous man. He knows the funny. He brings it. I chuckled several times during the reading, all full of warmth. Chuckled because there was real humor, and chuckled because I know where Alex journals, and I know how he usually expresses himself, and it was just so truly Alex.

Then, the wording. The prose. The sentence structure. So real. So 'the way professional writers write'. I don't know if editors are the common thread there, and I pray they didn't homogenize my Alex, even if it means the end result is good. But best case scenario, even if, is that Alex has What It Takes.

Then, the story itself. It was science fiction! Really good Science Fiction! I didn't know what Alex had under that shiny pate, but I should've known. If I suspected he was really a writer, I should have known he'd know how to write. Know how to take me places I want to go, and not bore me or deceive me, or force me to call his bluff. I should've known that as soon as Alex told us that an Asimov's editor accepted his story for publication.

I'm only saying all this because I want Alex to know that I know it. I want him to know that I see what's inside there and I want him to take some joy in it. I want him to celebrate and get ready to make more wonder. I want him to be confident and awesome and heroic and beautiful.

And I want to read more stuff, dammit!

Congratulations, Alex Wilson.

You deserve it.

You are a good writer.

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