It was the spring of 2014, just over eight years ago now000. I had written yet another short story for an anthology – it was my way of breaking into publishing.
This one was called “A New Year,” and was inspired by Bastille’s song “Laughter Lines”:
You took me to your favourite place on Earth
To see the tree they cut down ten years from your birth.
Our fingers traced in circles round its history,
We brushed our hands right back in time through centuries.
As you held me down, you said:”I’ll see you in the future when we’re older
And we are full of stories to be told.
Cross my heart and hope to die,
I’ll see you with your laughter lines.”
For the story, I came up with the idea of a gay kid saved from suicide on New Year’s Eve by a mysterious stranger, one whom he encounters again once every eleven years. Someone who changes his life with each new meeting.
The boy goes on to become a successful writer, and has an “author shelf” full of his own works (though in the story, that’s more implied than actually shown).
The funny thing? In the story where we see his success, the year is 2022. Here I am in my own real life, with a shelf full of work I can be proud of. Life imitates art.
Still, it doesn’t always work like that.
You know that old saying, “those who can do, and those who can’t, teach?” It’s just as true in writing as in anything else. We all have our dreams, and often we play those out in the playgrounds of fiction.
I can’t fly but I’ve always wished I could, so I gave my characters wings in the Oberon Cycle.
Mark and can’t afford to live in a high rise in Portland, so I sent my own characters there in Translation.
And I can’t go back to change my own closeted past, so I re-wrote it in Prolepsis.
Writing is wish fulfillment, and never more so than when a writer follows their own dreams. In real life, we’re often at the bottom of the economic barrel, rarely making enough to live off of from the craft we practice – and love.
But in our own worlds, we are gods, able to conjure up something from nothing, to follow our hopes and whims and fantasies to their logical conclusions. To give our characters wings, to change their pasts, and even to fulfill their dreams of who they might become.
And maybe also to wonder, just for a moment, What if…?
To my writer friends – what dreams of yours are hidden in your work? And have you ever achieved any of them in RL?