On New Year's Eve my family and I watched Nim's Island. As a hopeful author, I really enjoy this movie (which I've seen more than once), particularly the storyline involving the author, Alex Rover. (Caution: Potential spoilers given in the rest of this post.)
In the movie, the "Alex Rover" books are full of action, tension, fighting, near-death experiences, and overall danger. But the author (Alexandra--Alex--Rover) who writes the fiction books about the hero (Alex Rover) has multiple phobias. She doesn't leave her apartment, she uses antibacterial hand sanitizer constantly, etc. When a young girl finds herself alone on an island in the South Pacific, she calls on author Alex Rover, thinking she's asking for help from the fearless adventurer. But Alexandra Rover and Alex Rover are not the same people. In fact, they are vastly different.
Throughout the movie the fictional hero is shown like he is a real person, talking with the author. He encourages her to go and be the hero the young girl (Nim) needs her to be. So she does the right thing and sets out, suffering through motion sickness in the taxi (even before the taxi starts!), fear on the plane, being in a foreign country, getting dropped off of a boat 100 yards offshore, being terrified on a helicopter, and practically drowning. Alexandra Rover can write about adventure, but this journey she embarks on is the first time she's really lived an adventure.
When Alexandra almost drowns, Nim is the one who saves her. In a scene right after the rescue (on the beach), Nim is disappointed with the supposed "hero" who shows up on her island, so she asks Alexandra to leave. The fictional hero (who is quite dashing, might I add, as played by Gerard Butler) shows up again and has a discussion with Alexandra. He tells her he won't be her "crutch" anymore--that she needs to go and help Nim. And then he leaves, walking straight out into the waves of the ocean and telling Alexandra to "be the hero of your own story."
Now what does this have to do with me and any other hopeful authors (or published authors) out there? Well, first of all, we should remember that characters can have quite the lives (and minds!) of their own. ;) But really, it's so easy as writers to find our adventures in the pages of books, whether ones we read or ones we write. And it is good to use our imaginations, to share our passions through the written word. However, we ought to also remember to live the adventure that is the life we have been given. We need to put our faith into action in real life, as well. We have to step out of the boat.
James 2:26 says, "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also."
In Nim's Island, Alexandra Rover wrote about amazing adventures. But if she hadn't stepped outside of her apartment and taken risks to help someone else, she might have missed the most amazing adventure--her own life. Her fictional hero walked away into the sea, but she found a new home, a new purpose, and a new (real) hero in the end.
I'm not saying we have to force our fictional heroes to walk the plank and leave our lives forever. We are writers, and if God has given us that gift we should never throw it away. But we shouldn't let our fictional adventures (read, watched, or written) keep us from living the real adventures God has given us in our lives. And sometimes, I think it's alright to let our characters dive beneath the waves until we have proper focus, putting God first and living for Him each day.
(The pictures of Nim's Island are from Amazon.com. Find out more about the movie at IMDb.com.)