Pull back the curtain and see how a suspense writer puts the thrills and chills together.


Happy Monday, Dear Readers…if there is such a thing.

Last week was a bleak one for me, which is why I didn’t post as often. When I’m in a negative head space, the last thing I want to do is risk bringing all of you down. But, needless to say, I was in desperate need of inspiration.

Sometimes we find inspiration in the strangest places, and I discovered mine in a big, fat, animated panda. Who knew? I’ve always loved the movie Kung Fu Panda, but I never expected so much of Po’s story to resonate with my own. After all, he’s an animated panda with a duck for a father. How much could we possibly have in common? Quite a bit, as it turns out.

When the movie begins, Po is an unlikely hero. He’s fat, out-of-shape, unambitious, and lazy. He spends his days working in a noodle shop for his dad, while secretly worshipping The Furious Five–the best martial artists in China.

Through a strange twist of fate, Po ends up being mistaken for the legendary Dragon Warrior, who is supposed to bring peace to the valley. He is torn away from the family noodle shop and suddenly under the care of Kung Fu Master Shifu, who has to take the pudgy panda and–against all odds–turn him into a fierce warrior.

Po’s early days at the Jade Palace are not happy ones. Shifu is reluctant to train him, to say the least. His idols, the Furious Five, ridicule or openly despise him. And everyone believes his presence at the training camp is a mistake.

It is Po’s great love for Kung Fu and his determination not to give up that keeps him at the Jade Palace initially, but slowly Shifu learns that he cannot train Po the way he has trained his other fighters. He must use Po’s own personality quirks to his advantage.

The movie may have a simple message, ultimately, but it’s an important one. Po doesn’t succeed by imitating his idols–he succeeds by being the best big, fat panda he can be. As he says to his foe, “I’m not a big, fat panda–I’m the big, fat panda.”

Other aspects of his story really resonated with me:

1) Training in any martial art is really hard, and a lot of the time, it sucks
2) No one is ever perfect at it, and your kru is always going to find flaws in your technique
3) The more you want something, the harder you have to work for it
4) The impossible can happen, and…
5) Embracing your so-called “weaknesses” can turn them to your advantage

At the very least, I am grateful that my training does not involve spiked clubs, geysers of fire, or nerve attacks. But my kru did warn me that my training will be “ramping up” next week….

In what unlikely places have you found inspiration? Do you find movies like Kung Fu Panda inspiring? Why or why not?

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  1. jocelyn

    totally thought Kung Fu Panda was inspiring… although there was a lot of fighting for a kids movie. (i.e. a bit too violent for a three year old) Mind you he was really motivated by food… which is also my motivation… ah the life of a fat panda! hahaha

  2. Lisa

    It inspires me when normal regular people overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. It makes me look twice at myself, and my excuses, which become pretty lame compared to what these people have done.

  3. Story Teller

    @ Jocelyn – yes, I guess I can see how it would be, but at least it honored the hard training and tradition of martial arts instead of being about mindless fighting. If it inspires more kids to take martial arts, that’s a great thing. It’s fantastic for discipline, health, etc.

    @ Lisa – regular people, but not pandas? ;)`

  4. laura best

    I can’t even remember the last time I watched a movie. But, by the sounds of it, I’m sure I would enjoy Kung Fu Panda. I’m the one who always cheers for the underdog. Seeing ordinary people doing extraordinary things is always inspiring.

    Glad you found some inspiration, Holli! It often does come when we least expect it.

  5. Story Teller

    Welcome back, Laura! I’m sure you would enjoy Kung Fu Panda. It’s a very sweet story, and the animation is incredible. It’s also very clever, especially to those familiar with martial arts.

    Thanks for your kind words. I’m always searching for new ways to get inspired. They give me armor against the tough times that are always around the corner.


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