This is how hero worship turned out for my aspiring songwriter character, Ivan (nicknamed Van) in Real Life & Liars.
“For a time, Van had a poster of his hero taped on his apartment wall. Bob Dylan stared down at him every night and every morning, heavy-lidded, cigarette drooping. Then Van got drunk on whiskey one night and ripped it down, and in the blazing light of morning, through all the hangover fog, he’d noticed that the paint had faded all around where it was taped, so he’d been left with its imprint. It was like a chalk outline around the corpse of his ambition.”
Heroes can inspire, but they can also remind you how much you suck. At least, that’s what happens on a really bad day.
I can’t come up with personal heroes, I’m afraid. I’ve racked my brain all week trying to come up with one, which just goes to show that I don’t have any. Honestly, if you have a hero, do you have to think hard to drum her up?
I’ve got a snapshot of Hemingway’s office taped on my own office wall, which I talked about during our Deb Offices week recently. Is he my hero? I greatly admire his work, of course, but his drinking, not so much. Heroes are as complicated as anyone, maybe moreso.
I love Katharine Hepburn, but I think I love the idea of her. I haven’t seen enough of her movies nor studied her life enough to honestly say she’s a heroine of mine. I’m more familiar with her legacy and pop-culture construction of her as powerful, uncompromising and elegant. I would like to be all that, but maybe Katharine Hepburn is not even the best example. And why shouldn’t Mother Teresa be my hero for her selflessness, and everyone’s hero, for that matter?
No mentor leaps to mind, either. I grew up professionally in newspapers, and although newspaper people tell great war stories (especially when filled with beer), there’s no time for mentoring on deadline. Countless authors over the last five years have helped light the dark woods of publishing for me, but no one mentor stands out.
I imagine under the best of circumstances a hero can serve as a North Star of sorts, somewhere you can aim yourself when you get lost. I can definitely see the allure in that, and maybe I just haven’t found my guiding star yet.
For now though, I’m doing fine without one. I don’t want to be like anyone else. I just want to be a really good me.
8 Replies to “In which Deb Kristina is at a loss for heroes”
You certainly are doing fine, Kris! I never was one for worshiping my professors or pop stars–but mentors are another thing altogether. Anyone who has ever reached down and given me a hand up–I’d count them as a mentor.
Katharine Hepburn used to live two miles from me. Her house (overlooking Long Island Sound with its own private beach) was sold recently and is being redone because it was, apparently, in pretty rough shape. Our town is in the throes of remodeling an old building that was once the town hall; before that, it was a theater, and they’re turning it back into one and calling it The Kathariine Hepburn Memorial Theater.
She used to shop at a small, privately-owned grocery store on Main Street. I ran into her there, not once, but twice, all within five minutes. The second time, I almost knocked her over with my grocery cart. I didn’t recognize her until she spoke.
What a voice.
Mags, whose heroes were track and field stars, Olympic equestrians, and her father.
Okay, that is best line ever about the chalk outline around the corpse of his ambition. YOU are my current hero for writing that!
Meredith, maybe in that case I have many mentors! I’ve certainly gotten lots of “hands up” through the years. I was thinking of a mentor as one major personality who nurtured me professionally… Anyway, in that case I’d have the opposite problem. I’d have too many to name and I’d be afraid of an accidental snub.
Maggie, I remember you telling me that story, now that you mention it. Yes, that VOICE. A remarkable woman.
Tiffany, why thank you! My morning started out rough but that certainly redeemed my yucky post-spring-forward Monday.
Yes, Kris – that is a great image and a wonderful line. And maybe part of Van’s problem is that he had too much hero worship. Y’know, feeling inadequate because he could never live up to any of his heroes’ accomplishments. And I do think you’re right about just trying to be really good at being you! Heck, everyone else is already taken!
I like the thought of many mentors instead of just having the one. I think the world moves too fast for that these days, anyway!
Well Eve, having just finished your memoir, I can tell you right now I’d sure suck at being YOU! You are one amazing woman. Anyway, yeah, Van pays far too much attention to other people and not near enough to himself.
Indeed, Katie. It takes a village to raise a writer, I think, because no one person has the time.
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