I was perusing the public library one day when I came across Isaac Marion's Warm Bodies. The cover looked interesting so I picked it up and discovered it was about zombies. Instantly, I was sold. I took it home and read it and realized it was not your typical zombie tale. It was a zombie story with heart. In fact, the story is told from the perspective of a zombie. And he has a heart! Or, well, he's trying to have one. I liked the book and could really tell that the author was trying to inject more than blood onto the page. There was a love story there, as well as questions on life and death and the nature of existence and all that good philosophical stuff.
As I do with any book/movie/television show I find interesting, I did some research on the book and Isaac Marion. Turns out, Warm Bodies was originally self-published. He wrote it when he was in his mid-twenties and actually landed a movie deal through his contacts in the industry (The movie comes out next year). A book deal soon followed. So, while he found his success backward from how most people do, I thought it was awesome that something he put out himself still managed to catch the attention of movie studios and publishing houses.
Due to his movie and book deal, he has a good chunk of change now and through his Tumblr and Twitter, I read along as he traveled across the country and independently put out his second book, The Hungry Mouth, a collection of short stories, which includes a prequel novella to Warm Bodies. He personally sent me a copy. Okay, and he sent 500 other people copies too but the point is we are practically BFFs.
And because we are "so close", I get to see who he is behind the books. He's a real guy. He is sarcastic and crass and likes beer and sex and beards and other macho things. But he can be charming and sensitive through the interaction he has with his readers. He often hands out advice and his perspective on things. I like that he's accessible. I guess he's not famous enough yet to blow off fan inquiries so I appreciate that. He's also an artist. He paints. He writes. He plays music. He just finished a screenplay. He is multi-talented. I also get this sense that he's a bit restless and is always looking for creative outlets to express himself and it reminds me of me.
We're not totally alike but I do see several parallels between us. He grew up in a religious environment and had a downfall with religion later on in his life. Before the success of his book, he worked unsatisfying jobs to pay the bills. He expresses himself through different mediums. It's both comforting and inspiring to see he was once where I am now.
I hope, as with any budding author, if I ever put my book out, it might fall into the right hands just like with his book. I don't see anyone making a movie out of my story but it might be traditionally published and exposed to a wider audience. That would be great. And if I could have the opportunity (and money) to travel, I would. The guy gives me hope.
He also lives in Seattle and seems to like it well enough. I've heard good things about it from people who have been there or currently live there. I even thought about moving there before, which led to an idea of sending him a desperate e-mail saying I was also a struggling writer and would love it if he'd house me in Seattle while I found myself (and a job). But then I realized he'd probably get a restraining order against me so I squashed the idea.
sort of like church
As I mentioned, I also follow Isaac on Tumblr and he infrequently posts his thoughts on certain things. Several days ago, he posted about a bar that offered cheap tacos and beer every Tuesday. He and his friends gather there and enjoy each other's company, as well as the cheap tacos and beer. And he wrote something that made me pause:
Taco Tuesday will always be there for you, a regular, reliable community event where friends can get together and share life. Sort of like church, but with less self-hatred and irrational dogma and more beer and ground beef.
He brought up a good point about the self-hatred. Ever since I was a little kid, sporadically attending church with insistent classmates, I've been taught that people are sinful and deserving of hell. Everyone of us, from little kids to big adults to the clean to the dirty to the mean to the considerate. It's only through Jesus that we can be saved. Seems a little unfair that we are born sinners. You can't help your eye color and you can't even help your soul. That is, until you are old enough to understand Christ (but who ever really gets old enough to do that?) and ask to be saved.
And I can't tell you how many Christian songs out there have self-deprecating lyrics. Even one of my favorite bands, Showbread, often put themselves down when responding to fan compliments. They are quick to explain that any talent, any inspiration comes from J.C. and not them because they are losers and sinners. I know that in many cases, this is a display of humility but come on. It all feels a little too harsh at times.
I don't even disagree that we all suck. It's true. We're all sinners. We all screw up and fall short of God's glory. BUT. This is expected. God himself knows this. We know it. It's no huge secret. So why is it that we have to be constantly reminded of our shortcomings? Why do we put ourselves down over something that we don't have much control over? I'm not saying that because we are sinful, we should just give in and indulge in our sins. Not at all. I'm just saying we know we will never be perfect so why should we dwell on it? We should be as good as possible, of course, but we shouldn't beat ourselves up over a few mistakes here and there.
There seems to be so many negative aspects to Christianity that have bogged down believers. I know I'm one of them. It would be nice if we could switch the focus from hellfire to helping others. Pointing the way instead of pointing fingers. Being kind instead of accusing. Accept that we are sinners and move on to more constructive things.
I have a problem with that myself. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in my own negativity that I think I inadvertently spread it around like smearing ink. But embedded deep within all the negativity is the knowledge that God is supposed to love us despite our setbacks and unsatisfied lives. That's another tough one for me. I just don't feel that love, that acceptance. Everyone keeps telling me Jesus is talking to me. But all I can hear is the negativity, the low growl of disappointment and defamation from devils but grow deaf in the presence of deities. Hopefully I'll find the strength to work on that one day.
Until then, I need to work on myself, find out how I can climb out of this well of misery and shake off the skepticism and despondency. I've got to change my focus from regret to revival.