On Mediocrity and Writing – Guest Post
Ever since I can remember, I’ve hated mediocrity. I’ve always wanted to go one step above. If someone went above me, then I would do anything to go two steps above. I hate average. Average isn’t something to be proud of. I grew up in a rather stereotypical Asian household, and well, mediocrity wasn’t well received. That being said, these same stereotypical Indian Parents gave me so much more freedom than any other Asian parents I know. I’ve been given the gift of allowing to explore my thoughts and passions. I’ve been able to explore writing, in a way most other children of my age and race would not. That being said, they raised me in a way to hate any sort of average, may it be in swimming, school, or my instrument, the flute. The climb to the top is king. That translated into my own novel in a pretty hard way. I could have been done 5 months ago. I could have begun looking for publishers and agents and what not. People who read the initial transcript loved it. But I didn’t. What the hell is wrong with you, people asked? And I just smiled, and said, it’s not good enough yet. And I began trudging along. Even as my second draft comes to a close, I’m still not happy with it. But it’ll have to do, for now. There’s only so long someone can go. However, this concept of mediocrity also began my own perception of other books. Books that I used to love, like the Percy Jackson series, began declining in my own mind. I felt that they were not engaging. Honestly, they bored me. Rick Riordan is an amazing author, probably better than I’ll ever be, but to be honest, all his characters in any book, in my opinion, began sounding the same. I couldn’t stand it. I’ll finish the Heroes of Olympus. Percy Jackson has been with me forever. I’ll see it to the end. And then there are those books that I just don’t care about. Namely, the Mortal Instruments. At the insistence of Luci Morin (Team Leyana, Assembled Creatively/Bleeding Freedom), I read the first three. I began reading the fourth. Somewhere in that journey, I just quit. I literally handed the book back to her, and said, “This just sucks.” I didn’t care what happened to the main characters! And you know what, I never had! What makes a book great are engaging characters, that change over time. I saw nothing of that. What made the Hunger Games so good? The characters changed! And the plot was one of the best I’ve seen. John Green was good because I cared about the characters! They changed, they evolved, they realized things. But TMI? All I can say is meh. I can’t remember anything that happened in the book. There were some Angels, right? Mediocrity is the reason why I finally watched Avatar and the Legend of Korra, because in the pile of crap in television, these two were two great shows. These two shows singlehandedly changed me and my novel forever. I stopped focusing on plot so much. I began focusing on the characters, how they interacted with each other, and more importantly, how they changed. You know what, hiss at me all you want, boo at me all you want, I don’t care. As in the words of Avatar Korra, “You gotta deal with it!”
-Vyas Muralidhran, Assembled Creatively Senior Editor/Lead.