For various reasons, but mostly because it’s now saleable and I have tens of thousands of words in unfinished stories, I went grubbing about in the old Austen fanfic sites for my stuff. (Remembering the names I used was harder.)
Most of what I found is going to need serious revision. There’s also the book that is missing most of the middle, because I had a note at the beginning and a thing about not archiving the note. An inexperienced archivist thought that meant “Do not archive the post.” Don’t go there.
What is interesting is finding things I don’t have the slightest memory of writing (we’re talking 15 years ago.) It’s my style, and once I look at it a faint memory-like thing comes back, but I don’t remember what must be months of a chapter a week. This disturbs me, because it’s like losing part of yourself. Also, am I going nuts? Or was it just “young mother with young kids, writing late at night?”
But more interesting is reading some of these and coming across things that could be lifted whole from my later “serious” books.
It makes one feel uncomfortably like one is an instrument designed to deliver a certain type of message, which is going to come out no matter what the medium.
Which gets us back to the whole “was I designed to be a writer.” This is perhaps more important to me right now because for various reasons, some of them physical, I’m having trouble concentrating even to type in/edit stuff much less write.
Which gets us back to the whole fate thing.
I grew up with “fate” as part of my mental picture. Unquestioned part. I was rocked to sleep to songs of people being destined to have some fate or other. It was probably the hardest thing to let go of when I acculturated, precisely because it was unquestioned. Also because frankly most artists have a broken part of their brain that says “I’m meant to be yuge!” [looks at pants size. Job accomplished.]
But if Himself is anything as an author it’s a pantser. Sure. We have the potential to be something, and maybe there’s some message He wants to get out, but in the end what makes you or breaks you is the decisions you make/plot you live in (and weirdly a lot of this is determined by what’s in your head.)
He probably has some dozen people designed to put out the same message I do. And some of them chose never to write. And ‘m not even fully sure what the “message” is as it’s woven into who I am.
It comes back to two things: the moment I was in the hospital, trying to die of pneumonia (now 22 years in the past) where what weighed most on me was the children I wouldn’t get to raise (they were 5 and 1 and change then) and the books I’d never written and which would die with me. And the persistent wish I could go back in time and tell that young mother that yes, she’d get published. Multiple times. Make a living even.
But if I’d done that, would I have fought so hard to get published? Would I in fact have got published?
Sometimes, posting at insty late at night, I wonder at the weird trajectory of the little Portuguese girl, in a village of no importance, for whom dishwashers were imaginary, bathrooms inside were a luxury, and a six pack of colored pencils was THE most wonderful birthday gift ever getting the keys to a big site and giving her opinions to people who, had they seen her at that time would have looked at her as a touristic curiosity.
Is this a likely trajectory? Is it even possible? It has to be possible, because it happened to me. But what fiction novelist could make this believable.
And if there were fate what mind would weave that one?
It makes no sense.
There is no scripted fate. Or if there is, it is not written in stone.
We’re all arrows fired by a blindfolded archer, in search of a unique target. Sometimes you have to make your own target.
It’s very easy to extrapolate from trends, both our trends and those of the nation and the world. It’s also very easy to be completely wrong.
All those novelists in the forties and fifties writing of an overpopulated Earth weren’t cranks. They were writing on extrapolation from the trends of their day.
Don’t be fooled by “perfectly logical” speculation.
The future is unwritten. You (or the world, or the country) aren’t done till the count is finished, and the count is nowhere near finished. The fat lady ain’t sung. (And be glad, I can clear rooms with my singing.)
I hate “today is the first day of the rest of your life” as I hate most hippie slogans, because the answer should be “duh” or “It can also be the last.”
But it is still nonetheless true. Nothing is scripted. Sure, the past is prologue, but if you want you can defeat even the most persistent bad habit, the most awful “trend of bad luck.” Analyze, change, create.
Do you want your story to be one of those that ends on a down note, of despair and inability. O do you want it to be human wave “and he overcame all this to–”
The future is not formed yet. Go create it.