March 02, 2010

I WON! ...a sense of belonging?

Don't forget to enter THE TABBY CATT's very first contest, In Like A Lion, by Friday, March 5 at 5PM for a chance to win your choice of 1 of 4 awesome books!

I was sitting in my hotel room eating leftover bread and butter (food-wise, I'd do okay in prison) and a cupcake, reading through my exponentially growing daily blog list, when I noticed Michelle McLean had announced the winner of her Celebration Contest. I'd entered several other contests recently and won none, so I wasn't expecting anything. Lo and behold, though, I scrolled down to Silver Medalist, and whose name was there?


I looked at it a moment, confused. Did two Abby Stevenses enter? Did it actually say Abby Annis, and my eyes were playing tricks on me?

But nope! It was MY name! As Silver Medalist, I won the choice between a query critique by Michelle and her agented writer friends (at least 5 as of the posting of her blog) or a signed copy of Jessica Verday's THE HOLLOW and a perfume sample set featuring scents inspired by her characters.

I was very tempted to take THE HOLLOW prize pack, because I love free stuff - especially signed free stuff - and the book sounds great (I've added it to my 'to read' list), but in the end, a query critique by a published author and her agented friends was too good to pass up.

On the way to Philly yesterday, we were listening to Colin Cowherd on ESPN Radio when Cowherd said he thought the reason the Olympics are so successful is because, in a society of too many choices - television, movies, music, radio, everything - we rarely experience moments of shared emotion on a grand scale.

You made us proud, buddy!

The Olympics definitely gave us the opportunity to feel like part of something this February. Every time I logged into Twitter, people were tweeting about the Olympics. Online and off, people gathered together to watch, ooh-and-aah when our country won, wince when it lost, and lap up the drama, patriotism, and competition - together.
More often than not, bonding moments are born of tragedy - Hurricane Katrina, the 2004 Tsunami, last month's earthquake in Haiti, and of course, 9/11. We all remember crowding desperately around a television with strangers or coworkers or classmates and seeing the planes hit the Towers, feeling a collective sense of mourning. We remember Congress gathering on the steps of the Capitol Building to sing, "God Bless America" and feeling proud and bittersweet. Moments like those are important because they help us unite and do something to overcome.
Happily, there are also moments that unite us for good reasons. Every two years, the summer and winter Olympics do this, as do television shows and movies on a regular basis. The previous generation gathered together to watch the series finale of MASH. We gathered to watch the series finale of FRIENDS. In the 70s, everyone saw ROCKY multiple times. In the 90s, we did that for TITANIC. Now, we are doing it for AVATAR.

Sorry AVATAR fans, but I prefer Jack and Rose over Neytiri and Jake.
And while we experience these moments of shared emotion and belonging more often with movies and television, we also experience them with books. People love to belong, to be part of something. It's why millions of fans are devoted to HARRY POTTER and TWILIGHT and LORD OF THE RINGS. It's not just the awesome characters and the immersive worlds that draw them in - it's a sense of belonging to a group of people that "get" some small part of you.

  Gollum and his Precious want to belong, too.

For me, the books I most experience this with are GONE WITH THE WIND and HARRY POTTER. It is so enjoyable to discover that someone else has read and loved GWTW, and fun to rehash all of Scarlett and Rhett's scheming ways. For HP, even though I am not deeply invested in the fan culture (no Quidditch matches for me), I am thrilled when I meet someone with whom I can discuss the smallest, most insignificant ins and outs of the series - because really, most people just don't care that Mundungus Fletcher was mentioned in the first couple chapters of SORCERER'S STONE!
What shared experiences have you been a part of? What books give you a sense of belonging?


Elana Johnson said...

So glad you won! Congrats!

I've been through a lot with people. Querying. Something so horrible bonds you. Rejection.



It's such an emotional journey.

I also think the people who read my blog (and I read theirs) that we've been on a journey together for a while now. And it's fabulous. I love the blogging community.

Rachel Bateman said...

I don't go to a lot of movies in the theatres (which is weird, since they are a tax deduction for me), but I love that rush of experiencing the same thing with so many people at once. Horror movies especially are so much more frightening when you get that scared group mindset (unless, of course, one of those annoying people who talks loudly during a scary movie to keep themselves from being scared is there...they totally ruin it).

The one movie that stands out for me the most as giving me a sense of belonging is MOULIN ROUGE. I went to see at the cinema with two of my girlfriends, and there was only one other person in the theatre. But this man was SO enthusiastic, totally taking in every bit of the film. He even stood and clapped at the end. I felt like I had a connection with this random middle-aged man that day, even though we never spoke.

I get this a lot with books too. A lot. But I think I have written a long enough comment already, so I will just leave it at that.

I hope you are still enjoying Philly!

Heidi said...

Congrats! You'll have to tell me how it all goes!

The other day I served a girl a coffee and she was sitting reading this thick book. I barely even saw the tiny strip of visible dust cover and was like "Harry potter? I love it", to her as I handed her her drink, and she grinned. It was Deathly Hallows. I think I actually recognised the font too. I love seeing people on the train reading HP as well. You can always bet they've read it dozens of times but they seem so lost in the whole world.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your win! Please keep us updated on your prize.

I am *ahem* hopelessly obsessed with Harry Potter. And I actually just recently read "Gone with the Wind" and fell in love with it. Reading that you, too, enjoyed those books immediately gave me that sense of belonging of which you blogged today. Yea for connections!

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