The challenges we don’t want (or, on self-pity)

Yesterday I wrote about the challenges we need and how, as authors, we need to make sure the challenges we give our characters are the ones they truly need.

As I prepare for a second edition re-release next year, that got me reflection on one of my characters in particular: protagonist Kora Porteg in “The Crimson League.”

Some of us are lucky enough to really embrace, love, and the enjoy the challenges we need to grow into better people and to develop virtue. They’re things we do choose: marriage, worthy career goals, etc. Others of us–perhaps most (and all, to some degree)–DON’T want the challenges we most need. It’s our human nature, fallen as it is.

We balk. We scream. We protest. We fall into self-pity.

What I love about Kora is that even though she falls squarely into the “would never choose this challenge or this task” category, she never falls into self-pity as I so often do. She inspires me in that.

You see, she gets thrown into the midst of a resistance movement against the sorcerer-tyrant who has slain the royal family and taken command of her kingdom of Herezoth. She would NEVER choose that. Not in a million years. She is forced into it for reasons of self-defense. It’s out of her control, a “kill or be killed” kind of thing. She’s not a fighter by nature, or so she thinks. She’s certainly no traditional warrior.

But she grows, even though she’s resistant to resisting. She accepts. She learns. She takes less than ideal circumstances and she responds as best she can, though not perfectly, striving to do the right thing given the situation she finds herself in. And she is able to do this because she does NOT let herself fall into the natural, understandable, but nonetheless useless realm of self-pity. Never for long.

She embraces life, even when life is more than difficult. She tries to make the most of things. And I find that something to aspire to, my melancholic nature being what it is.

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