You know those games we sometimes play? The personality quizzes that match us up with some character from a tv show? I suspect all of us geeks have done one of these at some point or another. (And nearly as often, understand how to manipulate the test to get a more favorable result).
The appeal of these sorts of quizzes presents an interesting question in and of itself. Does finding a character that is like us somehow validate our self in our own eyes? Is there more behind the appeal than just picking an idealized version of ourselves we want to emulate?
I don’t know the answer. I do know there have been studies out there where it is shown that reading fiction increases your level of empathy. I assume in part because of just how deeply invested in these characters we become.
Speaking on a more personal note my own journey has often reflected Bilbo’s. More than that, I am convinced I would be a quintessential hobbit in a fantasy world. The elves were always majestic, the race of men synonymous with nobility (when they weren’t royally messing things up), and I am definitely not an orc or goblin. Crossing genres, I was never the self confidant smug rogue type or the serene ascetic Jedi.
I like my armchair and my books. I like my garden. But in the midst of the mundane I have a rather Took-ish side as well. And when I haven’t been off adventuring I have been putting pen to paper. At work I maintain the peace, though mercifully, I’m not employed as a burglar. More or less, I’m an oversized hobbit.
When this season of life transitions to whatever is next. I will have my own token to carry with me, not unlike Bilbo’s acorn. I’ll remember the good, the bad, and everyone in between.
It’s one reason I can’t wait for you all to meet my own characters. I am hard at work pouring everything I have learned into them. Their fears, desires, courage, resilience, deviousness, all creating a beautiful cacophony turning into a symphony that will reach into the heart of the reader and tear it apart only to rebuild it.
These are lofty goals I know, but that is the target.
And my aim is true.