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Last night I spent a while browsing around for new music to buy. There's still one long-lost song I haven't found, so I poked around for leads. It's tricky, since I only know the era, genre, and feel of listening to it... not the name of the group or song.

Still didn't find it, but I did buy a song I hadn't been looking for. Listening to it immediately recalled a series of heartbreaking, bizarre, beautiful incidents -- one of which happened at a concert where I'd heard the song. I thought about how I'd like to tell someone, and realized that no one would be able to relate. Sure, people might understand once I explained, but that wasn't what I wanted. I wanted to share a "You remember when...?" But I don't think anyone does.

Most of my life is like that, which makes this whole creation-of-art thing complicated, and why I have to write highly-speculative SF/F. I don't have any idea what it's like to grow up with a parent around. Or go to school past 6th grade. Or have a normal job. But neither do I have anything in common with the people who might superficially share those attributes. And I'm not even touching on bigger issues like health and religion.

Don't take this wrong; I don't think I'm a special snowflake, or unique in any positive way. And everyone is absolutely individual. But it's probably time for me to accept that the past cannot be rewritten. I'm not going to somehow hop onto the "kinda normalish" track anytime soon. If anything, I keep diverging farther.

I suspect this means that, to get where I want to go, and be what I need to be, I can't keep trying to use typical methods. The past ten years were a total wash. I don't (yet) know what to try, but brute force "just be normal already" isn't working.

Which is true of everyone, really. We always have to find our own way.


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 2nd, 2010 11:47 pm (UTC)
Still thinking the good thoughts. "Not the normal way" works for a lot of writers....so that may be exactly the right path?
Jan. 4th, 2010 01:51 am (UTC)

Yes, it seems like writers can do well following a lot of different paths, which is a large part of why I pursue it. There aren't a lot of avocations where that's the case.
Jan. 2nd, 2010 11:56 pm (UTC)
Once when I was talking to a professor about transferring from one college to another, I said, wistfully, "I might find more people like me there," and he said, "Oh no. You won't find many people like you anywhere." It felt like a curse when he said it, but really he was just stating plain facts.

Your life and your history and your you-ness offer people a window into a strange, wonderful, different way of perceiving things, of thinking, etc. (And it sounds as if your personal life story would make a hair-raising and fascinating book, if you ever felt like writing that story up.)

Who needs aliens and fairy folk and elves when we have you? I don't mean that sarcastically, or as mockery; I mean it in sincere admiration. Sharing your thoughts and ideas will make the rest of us infinitely richer. And even if you never feel quite at home, we can make you feel loved and welcome... which is something, at least.
Jan. 4th, 2010 01:59 am (UTC)
It does seem like it'd be nice if there were more people like you or me (or us), but I suppose the being-different-ness is part of the whole package, isn't it?

I've occasionally interacted with people who know a bit of my background, and as soon as they hear I write, they assume I'm writing about my life. The idea horrifies me, like writing about a car wreck! Maybe if I can wrangle a happy ending out of it. Though, really, I'm not bad off, I just don't accomplish very much.

Having had such unusual experiences really ought to be beneficial to certain kinds of storytelling, you're right. I probably ought to use it more. It's hard to see my past as anything other than a zillion types of failure all combined, rather than anything remotely interesting.

Thanks so much for the encouragement. :)
Jan. 4th, 2010 02:43 am (UTC)
You don't even have to try to write about your experiences, or to incorporate them into your stories (though you could if you felt like it). Those experiences have helped make you who you are, so your insights into how people work, what they want, what they do in certain situations--all that stuff is influenced by them. So whatever you're writing about, your youness comes through.

Let me remind you of a couple of things I loved in a couple of your stories. One was when Nathan was learning how to make the ancient god-device work. Everything about that was just so cool. Another was in one of your books--a festival scene or a religious ceremony scene (maybe it was in the Dragon and the Butterfly; maybe it had to do with when the Queen was coming; I'm not quite sure), where everyone was supposed to have practiced their part, but things weren't quite going right---that was so real and so accurately evoked--anyone who's ever been in a ceremony and had it go not-quite-right could really laugh in rueful recognition. And another was at the very beginning of your story about the girl who could see down to the truth in everything--as you described the different layers of the city, down to when it was mere forest and deer.

... I wrote all that without looking at your manuscripts. That's how much of an impression they made on me. And I have no reason in the world to flatter you. So. Just saying.

I'm glad I was able to be encouraging.

Jan. 4th, 2010 01:23 pm (UTC)
I'm terribly curious, now, what life history is referred to here. If you feel up to sharing, I'd love to hear more, maybe in email. I have an unusual back story, too, because my mother is mentally ill, so I think I can kind of relate to what you are talking about, although I wouldn't want to assume. I do find I have a rather pathetic yearning for the extremely normal in my life. For example, I would never do anything shockingly unusual to my living room or my home. It must look as close as possible to the ideal television middle class family lifestyle that I never had as a child. LOL. Like, you, I am far from ready to write about my life experiences.
Jan. 5th, 2010 06:33 am (UTC)
I'll email you!
Jan. 3rd, 2010 12:02 am (UTC)
Very true!

Wishing you a great and productive 2010.
Jan. 4th, 2010 01:59 am (UTC)
Thank you, and likewise!
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Jan. 4th, 2010 02:00 am (UTC)
Thanks, and for you, too.
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 5th, 2010 02:27 am (UTC)
In all seriousness, you have a good point. Most modern American "normal" seems to be a load of misery.

Jan. 5th, 2010 08:01 pm (UTC)
I don't know why this post of yours has hit me so strongly. I've been thinking about it since yesterday.

I don't know you very well, but your words have taken me back to my past, and how that's shaped me into the person that I am today--wanting to be normal, yearning to be part of the herd, keeping parts of myself hidden. I don't know why I crave that acceptance so much. It sneaks up on me even when I think I've defeated it and finally become comfortable in my own skin.

*hugs* to you. May you find a way to be free from the entanglements of the past.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )