Goodbye yesteryear selves! Hello new us!
Do you ever think about self-driven evolution? I used to call it ‘dreaming myself into being.’ I love that idea. Oprah says what we focus on today becomes our future, which is to say, in small increments, we achieve, always.
I think she said that.
I just finished The Best of Nancy Kress, a large collection of her short fiction, and the last story in the book was a novella titled Beggars in Spain. It’s a really interesting story, sometimes simple in its directness, particularly since she writes in plainsong, but the ideas are not simple and they’re many and surprisingly current. In the afterword, she spoke of how long it took her to finish the book.
Thirteen years. And then it won her a Nebula and a Hugo.
Thirteen years to write one novella. That’s not the only story she worked on during that time, obviously, but she experienced a lot of discouragement for the piece, she said, from fellow writers and her editor, Robert Silverberg. What happened with this story to make her stick with it for so long—to care for it and improve it?
I’m fascinated by this.
I have a fantasy. Don’t laugh.
I spent New Year’s Eve with my husband, as usual, doing the same thing we normally do, on the couch, our little island, eating dinner, enjoying a show—The Terror on Hulu, if you want to know (loved it!).
We talked. I told him I used to spend a lot of time imagining owning a house for artists, one of those old houses in college towns, the sort that get converted to apartments, beautiful to my mind but often a little shabby. I wanted one of those to fix up. I wanted to lease out rooms to artists for little or no payment, just enough to give them a sense of self-respect. But at very little cost to them, so they could focus on food and art supplies. Artists and authors. There’d be a library. And an area to congregate, where I could visit with them, of course.
As I described this old fantasy to my husband, a new one started to form. More and more details came to light. It was an artist community, like a village; it had a cafeteria with good, healthy food, but set up in a communal manner. Maybe like a Hofbräuhaus, a place where residents like us could go eat if we want to, or we could pick up food earlier and eat it in our homes in private. A place to gather for those who like to gather, when they want to be with people—and privacy, for when they don’t. The way small towns used to work.
Then, I laughed out loud. “What is it?” my husband asked.
“Oh, God. I’ve just described my mother’s independent living facility.”
So, this is a little dream I have about a safe place to fall for creative types, where they’d have a home and companionship. Like the “Sleepless” of Nancy Kress’s novella.
I believe her story stuck with her for 13 years because it had a special kind of impetus behind it.
With this in mind, not to be outdone, I’m going to share with you a story I wrote when I was 8. I’m sharing it for context, to remind us that we grow. 😉
Happy New Year! Be kind to yourself.