Friday, August 8, 2014
A shorter than usual post this week, because I am in the midst of my annual writing vacation and want to devote every minute to my stories.
I rarely think about the themes in my novels. Most of the time, I can’t tell you what the theme is until the second draft. Sure, I have a vague sense that a given book plays with questions of vengeance or loyalty or love, but too much focus on delivering a “message” takes the fun out of writing the story—and in the long run proves onerous to readers as well.
So I was surprised to discover, while spiffing up Desert Flower and Kingdom of the Shades for release this fall, that these novels I wrote fifteen years ago have a theme: the need to change with the times, to embrace the future even when it gets in the way of what you thought you wanted because that unexpected snag may push you toward a destination more beautiful than you ever imagined.
I saw it, I think, because it was a message I especially needed to hear right now. This week I learned that the company where I have freelanced for twenty years has been sold to a larger firm. Many of my friends are out of a job. One of them worked tirelessly to convince the new owners to keep the freelancers, even though she herself has to look for a new position (I thank her profoundly for that). And perhaps the new owners will, although whether they do and under what terms remain to be seen. I’ve spent much of the week chatting with others, many of them more affected by this change than I, as we try to decide whether the deal offers an opportunity to move on or just financial insecurity. And whatever happens, I will miss working with those who must leave. Or whom I must leave, as the case may be.
By a strange coincidence, this week Fotopedia, which I featured in earlier posts as a great source of Creative Commons images, announced that it is shutting down on August 10. The message implied that the site owners saw no way to turn it into a business, although personally I would have been happy to shell out $5–10 for the Fotopedia app or even pay a small annual subscription rather than lose access to those wonderful photographs. Based on the responses to the announcement posted on the Fotopedia site, I am not the only person willing to support that solution.
“Things change … It is their nature.” So speaks the hero’s mentor in Desert Flower. We can’t freeze the past in stone, but we can mourn its passing and hope that the holes things leave create the space for other, even more rewarding endeavors.