Saturday, July 7, 2012

I Gotta Be Me (Joy Preble)

In my DREAMING ANASTASIA series, there's a huge focus on destiny. In book 1, Ethan tells Anne that she is destined to save the Romanov Grand Duchess, Anastasia. The series' villain, Viktor, believes that his true destiny has been denied him and stops at nothing to manipulate and destroy in order to get the power he believes should have been his from the start. And on and on through the various characters -- many of whom find themselves trapped by history or circumstance or both.

All of this comes to a conclusion exactly one month from today, when ANASTASIA FOREVER releases from Sourcebooks. And for Anne and Ethan, choice and destiny are still firmly on their minds.

I think about this idea a lot, and not just in fictional terms, although certainly so much of literature delves into the question of fate vs. free will and science and psychology debate nature vs. nurture and on down the line. Is our destiny somehow set at birth? Do our choices open some doors but permanently close others? (I suppose here would be a good time to state for the record that while I love science, I suck hugely at math even though I was raised in a household of wonderfully math-y people who looked at me like the Marilyn of the Munsters. "Find X" to me is like "Where's Waldo?" There's x. *Points* What's the deal? But I digress... except to say that math-centric professions will never count me among their number (funny, eh?). Not even if I wish very, very hard)

But to the point -- Changing your path is tough. Really. And the longer you wait, the harder it is to do. (Like if, say, you're married for five years and on day 1 of year six you say casually comment, "Hey, Honey. You know how you never put the dishes in the dishwasher but just dump them in the sink, sometimes with the napkin crumpled up in the leftover cereal milk or something else gross like that but somehow they end up magically washed? Well, contrary to your belief of the past five years while we have been on the honeymoon phase (here you can insert a different number; say, three days), we do not have a magic sink. And I am damn tired of being the dish fairy. So change your ways, Bucko!) We all know how the rest of that story goes... and if you don't, well, just pick up GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn and check out what happens when marriage goes to the really, really dark place. Yeah.

A friend said to me yesterday, "I can't believe that you have sold four books already."
To which I replied, well, you know since I begin tinkering with the idea that maybe, just maybe, teaching Julius Caesar to the unwashed masses six times a year until I died was maybe possibly going to make me fall on my own sword, sooner rather than later, it's actually been about 10 years.

Which is to say-- changing your path doesn't happen over night even if publishing makes it seem that books sprout on the shelves like weeds without much effort on your part. It is risky and scary and hard, hard work and in my case, I had to do it over and over and over until I got it right, which thankfully I eventually did. At times I have been envious of those who at 20 and 22 knew right then and there that they wanted to write novels and proceeded to do just that.

I was writing at 20 - began my first novel then, which I still have, like an artifact from an archaeological dig-- but what I didn't have was the understanding that I was free to do what I loved. I nattered a lot about all that I knew and how much I'd learned -- as if! But I had to meet that independence the hard way, scribbling stories on the back of an envelope while sitting in the paper robe waiting for my gyn exam, after which I'd  go back to work, then pick up the kid from daycare and chase him around the table to do his homework and maybe grade 175 Julius Caesar essays before I got back to writing the WIP at midnight.  Some of us come to the creative life that way, with a spouse who says, "Are you still writing?" after which you unfairly compare him to the spouses that other authors thank in their acknowledgement pages: the ones who make perfect grilled cheese sandwiches and whistle jaunty tunes and surprise them with homemade jam and read their manuscripts, leaving insightful comments, and bring them green tea and a blanket --those last of which yours does, but not without heaving a sigh that says, "You know, you were a lot more fun before you decided that you needed to do this."

Interestingly, the witch in the DREAMING ANASTASIA series, Baba Yaga, lives in a forest that is a vehicle for change. If you make it out of the forest -- which you may or may not do-- you will not leave the same as you entered. You will be changed, altered, possibly freed to do things you only dreamed of doing.

All of which is for the best. Trust me.

As someone once said, there's only one guarantee in this world: we're not going out the same way that we came in.


  1. Here's to making it out of the forest...and changing for the better. Great post, Joy!

  2. Sometimes it's hard to remember that we're free to do what we love, especially when they are naysayers (like the one you described) telling us that we can't. Sometimes it's easier to listen to the naysayers, especially because they keep pressuring us to do what they want us to do instead. But eventually we do have to do what we want to do, because that's what makes us happy.

  3. Maybe destiny doesn't do things for us, but it just pushes us until we do them for ourselves.

  4. Change is hard. Congratulations for being willing to do the work. And for your latest Anastasia!