In an imagination, far, far away

I have loved Star Wars since I was six years old. I guess that's when I was first old enough to discover it. I'm nearly positive that I didn't understand all of it at the time, but I liked the lightsabers and the robots, adored Princess Leia, cried when Obi-Wan was struck down, and when I got a bit older I wanted to marry Darth Vader (yes, you heard me, I always like the bad guy!). Over the years I have seen Star Wars: A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi over something like 500 times. I still have my original Star Wars figures, though growing up as we were reasonably poor, I would never have as many as I wanted, so over the years I have happily added to my collection. I'm sure there are a lot of grown-ups (of which I am not one) out there who have done the same, buying the toys they missed out on as a kid. I guess it does make it easy to buy presents for me - give me anything from Star WarsDoctor WhoHitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy or Star Trek and I'm happy camping.

Like any Author I would love to write something that has had as much impact on the World's imagination as Star Wars. It seems almost impossible that it was created almost as a throw-away film. I doubt anyone at the time thought it would capture the hearts of nerds and normals alike in the way that it did. Alec Guinness,  the original Obi Wan Kenobi certainly didn't think so. In fact he thought the film was downright silly. Harrison Ford equally wasn't impressed, wanting his character  - the handsome all-round scoundrel and smuggler, Han Solo - to be killed off after the first film was in the can. In fact Han was frozen in carbonite just in case Harrison didn't want to come back for the third film, but this same plot device also gave Lucas an out if he did return, as he could be thawed out to carry on.

Yet all of this worship at the shrine of Star Wars has gotten me no closer to writing an epic space adventure, or perhaps just an epic adventure. Part of me wonders if this is because I often get so obsessed with other people's works (films books etc..) that my own imagination is sucked into a creative blackhole, compressed down to zero whilst I enjoy the fruits of another's labours - not that there's anything wrong with this of course, it just means I'm not being a productive writer. The other part thinks I'm just not very good, while another little part of me is just worried that one day I will accidentally rip off someone else's ideas. These wonderful paranoid thoughts all conspire to block up the pipes of the old mind palace so nothing flows. It becomes a why be sad later when I can be sad now kinda vibe.

For this slice of life, let's say I was going through a really bad period of mind palace plumbing malfunction. It was my birthday and I was feeling particularly useless and shitful, but on this particular birthday I was going to get a fantastic surprise present from my sister, Kay. A book. How Star Wars Conquered The Universe. This wonderful read is not just the Star Wars tale, it's also a biography of George Lucas and interestingly for anyone who wants to write science fiction, it delves deeply into his influences, how he developed (borrowed) his concepts and how long the whole idea of Star Wars actually took to come together. To be honest it made me feel a whole lot better about being so influenced by my indulgences and passions. All concepts are borrowed to some extent, and of course the more popular something is, the more it has been borrowed from and borrowed for.

What I also found really fascinating is how hard Lucas fought for Star Wars, struggled to bring it to life and then ultimately, with the prequels, almost destroyed this legacy. Lucas himself even admits that he doesn't understand why Star Wars has such an obsessive appeal, and that is why in the end he was so easily able to tear down what he had strived so hard to build, having to sell Star Wars to Disney essentially to save it. Lucas lost respect for his characters, and especially their dialogue. He ignored the story. How was more interested in visuals, and it shows. we, the fans, noticed and scowled. But I guess this is a good lesson for any writer. Respect your creation or it will fall apart like so much soggy cake, leaving you to disappoint a long line of angry people who were expecting cake where now there is none. And making you look rather foolish. Or something like that.

Jo Jette