On the Harry Potter fan scale from 1-10 where 1 means you assume Hogwarts is a terrible dermatological disease and 10 is dressing up like a different house elf for each of the movie premieres, I weigh in at a solid 8. For example, my wife and I went to Harry Potter World* without the kids because they haven’t read all the books yet (and a family has to have some law). While there, I was perhaps a little too upset when a cute little girl in Hogwarts robes was chosen for the Ollivander’s wand experience instead of me, BUT I did manage not to make my displeasure known to the room of families.
So yeah, I’d say 8.
Still, when I look at the pictures of being there, there is this expression of a particular version of happiness on my face that I almost can’t recognize. I’m happy sometimes, sure, but as my wife put it, I was living my best life there.
It’s not necessarily Harry Potter itself that triggered that happiness, though it is a great example of a story that packs in wonder, courage in the face of adversity and the importance of friendship. To be fair, I would have been just as geeked out at a Lord of the Rings World and when Star Wars World opens, I’m going to be a real embarrassment to those around me.
What made me overflow with wonder was the “magic” of seeing a story come to life. As I’ve written previously, nothing great ever happened without a compelling story powering it. Stories are the way we see our lives and our world. My kids are getting more into Harry Potter now, mostly because we have a rule that they can’t watch the movie until you read the book (parenting mic drop) and it makes me so excited to introduce them to so many other amazing stories. I make up a story to tell them most nights because it’s fun but it also gives us a dialogue on how to approach life.
All this is coming at a point when I’m having a Ferris Bueller-style look around. I’ve just celebrated my 38th birthday and while birthdays normally don’t affect me, this one, putting me well into the dusk of my 30s, made me really think about what it is I’m trying to do here. “Here” being on Wax Emphatic, or here in my life, or here in my career, in my family, in the cosmos. Those are big questions and at least for the first, I looked for advice online and WordPress suggested that I breathe life into my site by taking some time to write about why I write.
I realized that I write because of stories.
I write fiction even though it is second only to parenting on being the most infuriating and yet concurrently rewarding enterprise imaginable. I write for the kid sitting in his or her room, world falling apart who opens a book and reads something that tells him actually, someone somewhere does understand. I write on Wax Emphatic for more selfish reasons, or at least that’s why I started. I typically write about something I’m struggling with or I’m trying to do something good and for some reason putting it out on the internet holds me accountable. I kept it up though more because every now and then someone will mention something in particular I wrote that struck a chord with them or even better gave them the “you too?” moment. It’s always surprising to me because I have trouble gauging when anything I write will resound with someone else, but those moments are pure gold.
When someone mentions the downfall of writing, it’s hard for me not to laugh right in their face. You can point to stats about people finding entertainment in places other than books I suppose, but stories will never go away. It’s not like movies or shows don’t need writers. More importantly, storytellers of any medium are the caretakers of the human spirit. We need stories to tell us who we are and guide us to who we want to be. We need stories to teach our children about the world. When people stop believing in stories, especially the made-up ones, we have a real problem. I write to do my small part to stand to post in that ongoing battle.
That’s the why of writing. As far as what I want to accomplish, bleeding into the how of it, in my writing and my life, I want to always do my best to be honest, present and true. Wax Emphatic stuck as the name for this site for just this reason. Wax means to grow in intensity or to take on a quality. Being emphatic means expressing something strongly and clearly. If I can do that, and maybe help a few people along the way, I’ll call it a win.
Thanks for reading.
(*I recognize that it’s officially called the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and I also recognize that for those who know that fact, I’m dealing with a crew that delights in pointing out discrepancies, but I called it something else anyway for the sake of brevity.)