Everyone wants to be a hero, the one person who makes a difference. The person no one wonders why they were put on the earth. It’s a goal even if to attain this status means sacrifice, loss of self, even pain.
Novels are chock full of heroes, both obvious and those quietly saving the day.
I have this longing but being that person eludes me. Recently at work, some of those on my team were in key positions of skill that they were called upon to continue through the night even after a full day’s work. So while I slept (somewhat fitfully)they solved problems and got the critical job done. My only contribution was to make sure they were clear on what needed to happen. I had no power to do it myself. If I stayed up to keep them company, show solidarity, I would not be able to carry on this morning and that is what I can do.
How hard it is to step back, let others shine, let them rise up and earn deserving appreciation, the honor for heroism. I’m struggling with being on the sidelines knowing that I was not called upon because I’m not the right person which is so easily translated in my brain as not a good person, not a capable person, somehow guilty of a crime.
I’m going to put these thoughts behind me, because I’m up at the plate now but it does bring to my mind the importance of lesser characters in a story. There’s no doubt that the protagonist is going to be a hero of sorts, but to get into the head of those around that person is key to a full story. This was pointed out to me more than once in critiques of different WIPs. I forget to fully develop the supporting cast.
Many of us in life are not the hero, at least not in a big way. How do you feel when you’re on the sidelines in the presence of a great person? What struggles do you have not being even remotely in the limelight but you’ve pushed yourself well past what is easy but it’s just not as much as the next person can handle? Channel those feelings, and experiences into the minor characters in your novel.
Everyone knows, a hero really isn’t a single person. There is always a network of support that allows the unique, superior qualities of the hero to be expressed, those that make it possible for the other to succeed. It’s not an equal share in the work, but it could be the simple plugging of one hole in the boat that keeps it afloat long enough for the strength of the the rower to get everyone to the shore safely. My deepest gratitude to those who are giving their all to help others. Those called upon during this pandemic year to give because they’re skilled to do so and don’t call it a job requirement but act from a deep well of compassion. May you find those lesser characters around you giving you the word, the smile, the speedy delivery of a meal, the taking care of children, the listening ear to your tears, always there, always ready to help you.