Sunday, January 2, 2011

Sunday by the Sea

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 Find out more about the movie at


Renee Ann said...

So true, Amber! I remember wanting to hide within the pages of a book whenever life became a disappointing prospect. It's good to set up accountability--through friends or a Bible study group. Fellow Christians can help "jump start" us sometimes . . .

Amber Holcomb said...

Renee Ann,

Accountability is definitely good! :) I'm hoping that because I posted about my resolutions on this blog for everyone to see, I'll have a stronger desire (and more encouragement) to keep them.

Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment! Thinking more about the post, I'd have to say that by living adventurous lives ourselves, we'll also have more to write about (or compare with) when we go back to those fictional stories. :)


Julia M. Reffner said...

Thank you, Amber. This was really encouraging to me and what I needed to hear. My writing is coming along very slowly now and sometimes I just wish I had more time for it. But homeschooling my kids is a hectic lifestyle and I need to appreciate that someday I'll have more time for writing but watching my kids grow is an "adventure" I don't want to miss. Thanks, Amber for allowing God to use you!

I had actually been thinking about this today. I saw that the Genesis contest opened up, but I wasn't going to enter unless I had a finished MS. Well I'm far from being there and while I definitely hope to carve out a bit more time to write if I schedule a bit bettet (which is a goal of mine) I truthfully think I may not have been emotionally ready to enter the Genesis anyhow.

Amber Holcomb said...


I'm so glad this post encouraged you! I confess that I feel quite convicted and rather hypocritical right now. This past evening I just got so caught up in wanting to watch the first movie in the 2011 Masterpiece Classic season that I was "put out" when I missed most of it. We caught the last half hour or so, but it was so heartbreakingly sad that it left our evening together as a family on a bad note. :(

Right before we caught the last part of My Boy Jack we watched this really funny and sweet episode of Bonanza. Instead of focusing on others and wanting us to be happy together, I think I ruined the night. I have so much to learn! Hopefully I can also take this lesson from this post to heart.

Thank you for sharing about the adventures in your life right now. Raising kids must be quite the journey, for sure, and I hope all is going well for you. :) I'm sorry that things didn't work out for the Genesis this year, but thank you for sharing your positive outlook. Maybe we can motivate each other to write more this year (with a proper balance in our lives!). :D


Amanda Stanley said...

Amber, I am always blessed and impressed by your wisdom and insights. If you can encourage writers the way you do now, I can only imagine what a fabulous mentor you will make when you are finally published! You see stories and links in everything you do and tie those into writing and our walk with the Lord. It's wonderful and inspiring and I thank you for sharing it with us :)

I thought this movie was really good! Yes, I agree, the hero is quite dashing ;) I just love a Scottish accent! Speaking of Gerard and his Scottish accent :D I saw another movie with him (his voice, rather) on New Year's Day with my family! You may have heard of it... it was called How to Train Your Dragon ;) What a WONDERFUL movie!! I've been wanting to see it and after what you said about it the other day, I just couldn't wait any longer! I actually got all teary at the end of this sweet tale and I thank you so much for recommending it :)


Amber Holcomb said...


Thank you so much for your encouraging words, my friend! :D I love stories, and I love seeing the messages and take-away insights in movies, books, etc. Thanks for letting me share my thoughts with you! :)

I'm glad you liked Nim's Island, as well! Have you seen Phantom of the Opera? Crazy that Gerard Butler is the Phantom! ;)

And I'm super glad you liked How to Train Your Dragon! I've watched it several times now and love it more and more! It's GREAT! The music is gorgeous, the animation is wonderful, and the story is so sweet, as you said. :) So happy you got to see it, and I'm glad that my recommendation worked for you!