I was talking with friends (which is in and of itself a really nice thing to be able to do. Real humans! Live! In person, with hugging and everything.) about plans. My plans, my son’s plan for his life… which is a great plan, but as I was pointing out, when you are not-quite sixteen, plans may feel like they are solid, a line reaching out into the future you can grab onto and pull yourself forward with, as the mists of time recede. From my vantage point looking back into my sixteen-year-old self? Not so much.
I actually have fiction I wrote at that age. I have not read it. It was found years later, I had forgotten it even existed, and I looked at this sheaf of lined notebook paper covered in handwriting I knew was mine, but was not quite the same as my mature writing turned out. I know it’s bad. I keep it in a file, nonetheless, as it is a line back to that young woman who had no idea. None at all. The life I’d mapped out nearly thirty years ago bears no resemblance whatsoever to the life I’m living.
For one thing, I never thought I’d have children. Much less be standing talking with friends summing up my progeny’s locations as they have moved out of the house, and their plans. We talk so much about plans, even as most of us know on some level that plans don’t always come to fruition. Until they do. Even then… But I would never tell my son not to make these plans for his life.
Writing plans aside, and I am trying hard not to focus on how long mine have been pushed into the future, it’s something I have to think about when I am writing. One of the things that writing the adventures of the Hatrack did, as I was working from ever-changing prompts, was give me a plot twistier than a Tennessee mountain road. Plans might have been made by the characters, when they had a moment to breathe and plan, but they were rarely able to carry them out fully. Life is like that. You step out confidently on the path you’ve chosen and *boom* a tree falls across it.
Now, if you are really determined, you are going to find a way around that tree, or over it, or you might whip out your trusty rusty chainsaw and chew through it. Back on track, but wait, a sinkhole opens! Now you’re standing (if so lucky) in a muddy hole looking at blue sky far above. Life sucks, and then you die. Only that’s not what I want to write about. Nor is it what I want to live. I don’t model my life in my books, no-one wants to read that level of self-insertion, but we do learn from them. One of the things I like to read about is a life that pulls itself up, over and over, and never gives up.
Giving up and sitting on the side of the path watching the lives of others pass you by may be easier. It’s hardly a plan. It’s certainly not something I’d want to read about, and I write what I’d like to read. And I do pull from real-life for story scenarios. This last week or so? Plenty of fodder. Everyone is in one piece, nothing seems to be permanently damaged, plans can be adjusted on the fly, and eventually dull routine can be achieved once more, allowing the creative writer’s brain to go online again, and churn all that has passed into something exciting to read.
If you aren’t looking at where you want to go, you’re going to wind up wherever you are focused. As I told a friend yesterday, I am trying to focus on the positive, on the good things that lay in the future for me and my family. I will get there. And I will write on the other side of this transition time where I’m focused on Real Life more than I am on the world of imaginations.