Sunday, August 15, 2010

When Fate Calls

I had planned to sound off about another aspect of writing, but something happened to a dear friend this week. Since Sharon Donovan had her heart attack and subsequent heart surgery, I've been contemplating the capricious nature of life on this planet. We're all train wrecks happening in slow motion. We know we're going to crash one day and we can do nothing about it other than try to live safe and healthy. Sometimes even that isn't enough.
One of my favorite authors, Robert B. Parker, died earlier this summer. I didn't know him but loved his books and assumed from his photos that he was pretty healthy. One day, he just died. His illustrious career was over; his race run. Was he in the middle of his next Jesse Stone mystery? If he was, will anybody step up to finish the work on it? Could anybody do that in a way that doesn't seem artificial?
And there's my dilemma. It's not Sharon's writing I worry about at this point, nor is it Robert's. I have four novels sitting on my desktop, waiting for me to offer them to a publisher. All they need is a contract and an editor's help in bringing them to fruition. In addition, I have three more in progress but not complete. If that conductor in the sky janks my chain and I come crashing into the curve and off life's track, who will finish them for me? Can anybody do justice to them?
About now, some cynic in our midst is asking, "Who cares?" Actually, that's a very good question. What does it matter if a composer hasn't finished his last symphony, or an artist his latest canvas? Or an author, his next blockbuster novel? Why should any of it matter?
What I have come away from all this introspection with, is that creative artists in any medium are sharing a part of themselves with the world. Unlike most people, we are willing to bare our souls in public. But we usually do it in code. I'm convinced that we can read any good author's work and deduce who that author is at her/his heart. I know I let my hair down in my books. I could tell you what to look for and you'd have no trouble finding me in the pages and the 'hearts' of my characters. That, however, would not be fair and so, if you want to know what matters most to me, you'll have to read my work and discover my codes.
Just a little something to tease you with, my theme is constant and it's pretty simple at its heart. If my readers come away with that theme, my work has succeeded whether I'm still around or not. And whether my last book is finished or not. When the great archangel sounds his trumpet and I answer the call from eternity, my work here will be done. I find great solace in that.
Till next time, your friend and author.
Pat Dale


  1. Very sobering thoughts, Dale. But oh so true. And you're right, as authors, we do bare our souls. I know I did especially in Time to Live Again. Was the story about me, not at all. But a lot of the emotion was me.

  2. Love Tom Selleck as Jesse Stone; never miss the movies, even the reruns. What you say is true. Time will sift what is important in our lives and what was dross. The best we can do is remember time is fleeting and to not to waste it. I also agree that our characters reflect aspects of ourselves. Good post.

  3. I was thinking a lot today about this very subject...are we telepathically connected, Dale?

    Much of my writing is a miasma of the many swirling puzzle pieces that make me, me. I try to use my writing as my own personal therapy, because it is there, not available to me only when the vagaries of the world's therapists decide that my angst issues are within the paramenters of their capabilities to let me talk about for 50 minute intervals.

    Too many times I am at a point within my soul's Panadora Box when that 50 minute timer rings leaving me heart sore, pain oozing, and soul bleeding.

    Writing does not do that to me. I can write until I have crested that wrenching mountain and started down the far side towards the next oasis of calmness.

    If I do not finish, who will care?

    If I have done my job, writing, well, the reader will, because I hope I have brought them along for that treacherous uphill climb and they NEED the resolution found at the oasis at the bottom of the far side.

    Unlike you, Dale, I cannot have three, five, or more stories at various stages of completion. I admire those who can...but my blood pounds to the beat of ONE journey at a time. For me to do more, would overload my sensory receiving synapses...

    Burn out may come one day, but I'd really rather it not be today.

  4. Very indepth and insightful post, Dale. Along with the trauma of our mutual friend, Sharon, this week I've also had to consider the tragic death of a young man barely in his teens from a head-on collision. Today he will be buried.

    Yes, when it's our time and the conductor takes our ticket on that train of life which we ride, there's no way we can delay it. Will the other passengers miss our departure? We don't know, but in the scheme of things the one thing that truly matters is trusting our engineer.

    Not to sound so gloomy I'd like to add that hopefully, Miss Mae's books will still be read and enjoyed!

  5. Very thought evoking post Dale. I've often wondered the same things. I have a friend battling cancer, and though I can't pretend to know what gamut of emotions she goes through on a daily basis, in seeing what she has survived, and will face in the future, makes me thankful for the time given me thus far. One day at a time is my motto. As for the writing, the fact that we have come this far, that we are blessed to be able to write, and love it, is the reward, whether anyone else will care or not.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


  6. Interesting post, Dale. Every time I write "The End" I tell myself I'm not writing anymore, that there are too many other things to do in life, and I'm running out of time. But those ideas start creeping in, and I'm back at the keyboard and haunting the research stacks at the library in no time. I write because I enjoy it, because I love learning new things, and because my classes and workshops get me out and keep me social. And hopefully the mental exercise will ward off senility to some degree. Yes, I feel great when people tell me how much they enjoy my books and stories, but it's the creating itself I seek more than anything, the sorting and piecing things together to form something coherent. If it entertains a reader or two along the way, that's fine.