There Is A Way

Swallow this map, once you figured out you make your own way to the treasure. Anyway you want to.

Perhaps the most freeing and terrifying moment for anyone growing up is that moment when you realize, with horror and sudden insight, that everyone else is making it up as they go along, too.

Terrifying? Oh, heck, yeah. We grow up thinking that our parents will protect us, if worse comes to worst.

Okay, so some of us find out early they won’t, because we grow up in troubled times and we’re made of…. what was mom’s expression for me, when she found out something particularly heinous I’d been up to? Usually in the realm of being contrary or endangering myself? Oh, yeah “Made of the devil’s own skin.”

I mean, there was a time between street battle and running away from a curfew check that would have landed me in jail (and apparently potentially in a mass grave, though I was young and didn’t believe in those at the time) that I realized my parents couldn’t save my sorry behind if I got myself in enough trouble.

The thing is, though, that at the time the adrenaline was pumping, and I wasn’t …. um…. so, when you get addicted to adrenaline, you don’t think clearly while getting your high.

But getting married, moving out on my own, having to meet bills? Across the ocean from my parents? Where I couldn’t crash on the sofa of their fully paid off house, should Dan and I manage to not have rent money? Meeting unexpected expenses, like medicine, or car accidents? Oh, dear Lord.

I spent the first ten years of my life in sheer terror, convinced I wasn’t grown up enough to do this, and there was some mysterious knowledge the real adults had. And they weren’t SHARING.

And then sometime between first son and second, I figured out everyone else was just making it up as they went. And get this: some people were worse at it than I was.

… Only for it to repeat again when I sold my first book, and lived for two or three years, locked in terror someone would figure out I wasn’t a real writer. I was just pretending. REALLY convincingly. But sooner or later, I’d be…. unmasked.

I think it took the last ten years of industry WTF for me to get that honestly, no one gets this much better than I do. And that what I want to write might not be “good” — if anyone knows what good is, which I’m starting to doubt — but it’s what I want to write, and so I’m gonna write it, and publish it and repeat.

I didn’t get much done today. It’s my first spring at low altitude, and spring fever hit me as hard as it used to when I was in high school and should be studying for finals. Not much productive as such was done, though there was a lot of soaking up sun, and taking walks.

I think I got it mostly out of my system, and tomorrow I’ll finish the book. And then I’ll do another and another.

And there’s…. stuff I need to try to do. Really weird stuff.

Look, the fairy tale book is unexpectedly selling really well. If that can sell well… boy, have I some stuff I want to write. (And some stuff I want to collaborate on. And–)

It’s spring, and I just realized after 38 years of being an adult, I get to be a kid again. And an adult to. As in, I get to have fun. And get paid for it.

Wheeeee!

66 comments

  1. “if anyone knows what good is, which I’m starting to doubt ”
    Those doubts aren’t new.

    When the flush of a new-born sun fell first on Eden’s green and gold,
    Our father Adam sat under the Tree and scratched with a stick in the mould;
    And the first rude sketch that the world had seen was joy to his mighty heart,
    Till the Devil whispered behind the leaves, “It’s pretty, but is it Art?”

    https://www.poetryloverspage.com/poets/kipling/conundrum_of_workshops.html

  2. Look, the fairy tale book is unexpectedly selling really well.

    Because it’s sweet and fun and like a warm blankey. πŸ˜€

  3. The magic of childhood dies.
    But if you hold on to the memory of what it was like, it can rekindled.

    Creating should be joyous.

  4. Enjoyed reading the fairy tale retellings. Glad they’re doing well, but not particularly surprised. They’re good, probably some of your better work, and there’s a strong market for that genre in general.

    1. Only just realized that this came out sounding kind of patronizing. I am sorry. Brain not working this morning, and any attempt to fix what I just said will probably make it worse…

    2. Hmmm. A market for fairy tales retold, not just as novels? Hmmmm . . . *wanders off to peruse shelf of odd fairy tales*

      1. I was thinking mostly of the novel-length versions, but it seems like Sarah’s is not the only success story I’ve heard of when it comes to collections of fairy tale retellings.

        Someone needs to write the Ultraviolet Fairy Book, and follow it up with the Infrared, Jale and Ulfire Fairy Books, but all I know is it’s not me….

        1. The original books would have been better for removing all the literary variants, especially the far-from-folklore ones.

          Sometimes I think of a redone series taking advantage of progress from that day — virtually all his Asian tales were from Japan or India, since he had sources from there — but it’s not something I could do, really.

      2. The Princess Seeks Her Fortune is a (short) novel, but “Over the Sea To Me” is a fairy tale retold as a short story. It can be done! 0:)

  5. I suspect there is also a biggerarket than you expect for real honest to God love stories.

    People learn from stories, but few of the romances or purported love stories we see now actually teach any of that.

  6. All you can do is, write what you want to read. And then hope enough people out there are equally weird. πŸ˜›

    1. I keep encountering stories that seem to be written by people who don’t read, and don’t seem to have a grasp of what they’re trying to do. They read a lot like someone was trying to rework some TV show to text. I see lots of homonym errors that are hard to blame on spall Czeching, for example.

      1. I’ve noticed that, too. A lot of people want to write books without having bothered to learn how to write anything. I call it The Infinite Number Of Monkeys School Of Literature.

        Spiel Chicken doze nought abject two inn core wrecked warts.

      1. …and ten thousand say, “Ha! Hold my beer!” Not me, of course; I’m 100% normal… πŸ˜‰

        1. Absolutely stone boring. As dull as any Alaska pilot can be. Really. *pats halo with paw to make sure it’s still hooked on horβ€” er, on ear*

            1. “Profoundly weird,” eh?

              Dinosaur evolution and taxonomy
              Operations and tactics of World War II aircraft carriers (and their planes)
              Medicinal herbs of North America
              The history of maps
              How to read and write Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics
              Fighting forest fires in Grand Canyon National Park

              Yes, I really have books on all of those subjects in my library. And I don’t even have the excuse of being a writer who needs to research stuff.

              πŸ™‚

                    1. I don’t think I have a defense. My first thought was along the lines of “pretty sure I’ve seen/read/enjoyed weirder crossovers.”

                    2. And seriously “I read weird stuff”.
                      I was only half joking about being the weirdest. Bestsellers tend to leave me cold. I like stuff other people either have never heard of, or actively dislike in numbers.
                      This bodes badly for my sales if I only write what I like….

        2. Dull as a post. Boring. Uninteresting. Nothing to see here. Absolutely not strange, me. Honest! I left interesting behind loooong ago.

          I aspire to *write* interesting adventures. Not live them.

  7. I remember a few years back reading a book of stories trying to fix the problems in Rumplestiltskin. The stories were fine, nothing spectacular either way, but it was obvious from the introductory notes that the author didn’t understand the story at all.
    The problems were things like:
    “If Rumplestiltskin can make gold from straw why did he want the girl’s necklace and ring?” Duh, he didn’t want them at all. The whole thing was set up to get the King’s son, but the girl wouldn’t have agreed to it the first night, she had to be led up to it.
    “Why would being able to spin straw into gold make the king fall in love with the girl?” What’s love got to do with marriage?

    I think that there was at least one more “problem”, but I’m not thinking of it at the moment.

    1. Ow, now my brain hurts. And I am reminded I need to make sure Daughter gets a wide variety of stories so she doesn’t end up one of those people stuck not being able to “get into” anything written before about the last decade. And yes, unwillingness to read anything from viewpoints they disagree with is part of it with some people, but some just seem not to be up for anything other than a very narrow range of language and story structures or something.

      1. Should I be concerned that this person thinks “gosh, I wonder what human infant tastes like” is WAY more rational than the normal story of Rumpelstiltskin?

        1. Well, it happened enough in fairy tales. Usually, they just grabbed a peasant kid, like Hansel and Gretal, or Little Red Riding Hood, not do a huge plot for the king’s son, though.

          1. Yeah, but if we’re going to allow frequency in fairy tale as an option for logical support, then the original objection vanishes.

          2. Oh, they do lots of things for king’s sons. Frequently they trap the king, and rescue him for a riddling return, and the riddle turns out to be the son. Or they send the heroine to the ball three times. . . .

            And then there is the Three Spinners/Aunts type, where all they ask is to be invited to the wedding and addressed as “Aunt,” and when they get it, they do her another favor.

      2. I haven’t read it (and probably won’t), but from your description I’m getting echoes of “Heinlein in Dimension” by some relative nobody named “Panshin” trying to be a critic. and failing miserably.

          1. Done, and your description was spot-on; based on the note the author *didn’t* understand the story, and probably understands essentially nothing about such stories, given that he’s trying to use logic to analyze them.

            1. Vivian Vande Velde wrote some Charlemagne -based fantasies that were interesting, and I think some Marie de France-based ones too. But yeah, she is nerdy to the point that it makes me look normal, so….

              Btw, the Hebrew word for spikenard is “nerd”, so the NT says that Jesus was indeed nerdy at one point.

  8. And there’s…. stuff I need to try to do. Really weird stuff.

    Look, the fairy tale book is unexpectedly selling really well. If that can sell well… boy, have I some stuff I want to write. (And some stuff I want to collaborate on. And–)

    I admit that not all your weird stuff is my thing, but this definitely got my attention.

    I also should go check your list and figure out what I’ve missed so far.

  9. Today I did something mildly productive. I fixed the chapter list so it showed the things that actually got written (no more ghost chapters, hopefully). Yesterday I wrote a new chapter. A few things came up out of the blue, but that is becoming normal.

    Today is for making with the dialogue. Maybe explaining a few things. There’s a plot point or two in there that needs addressing, some convincing stubborn people. A little childlike glee, a bit of grandparent-like pragmatism, a bit more of “autist scientist” as the MC has been described attempting to people. A smidge of author math, which is something like real world math but not.

    I also need to make food. Real food, not leftovers in a pot (nothing wrong with leftovers save I’m out of them). Warm sunshine and springy feeling are nice. It may do to investigate this “outside world” thing that I’ve heard theorized sometime soon.

  10. Glad to hear the fairy tale book is doing well. I loved those stories when you posted them to your blog.

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