Monday, 18 November 2013

Details? What Details?

Jules Pascan can't remember either.
The other day a reader asked me a question about a short story I'd once published.  Conversation went like this:

Reader: "You remember your story "Title"?

Me: (Do I?)  "Yeah."  (Oh. Did I get that one published?)

Reader:  "Well, where M and N happen, what was O thinking?"

Me:  (complete and total blank)  "Uhh..."  (Think.Think.Think.)

Reader: (prompting)  "You know, when M and N happen because of P went to Q then D came out and..."

Me:  (DING! Lightbulb)  "Oh yeah. O was wondering why R hadn't gone to M in the first place..."  (Whew!)

Yeah. I'd been caught out.  It's not unusual. In fact, it's commonplace, not just for me, but for many authors. The thing is, we simply can't remember everything about every story we've written.

Here's why:

1. We write lots. You would not believe how much writing we do.  Many professional writers, by the time they get to the pro level, have written at least half a million words, possibly more. I know I've written nearly a million.  Yes, that's a lot.

2.  We don't dwell in the past. We write our stories. We edit them. We live very intimately with them.  We sell them.  And then we let them go.  They're big kids by that time, ready to go out in the world.  Once we release them to the wild, we forget about them because...

3.  We've given our brain over to our Current Work-in-Progress (WIP).  Our present is your future. The stories we're working on today are the ones you will read in the future.  Likewise, the stories you are reading today are from our past, those ones we've already let go.  Every details about those stories has already been put into cold storage so we can make room for the new projects.

4.  We live on a different ethereal plane than other people (except maybe Composers. We often hot-bunk).  You'd think we'd remember something as important as getting something published (!). At the time, we're quite excited.  But you're only as good as your latest publication. If that last pub was 1997, well... We need to get cracking.

5.  That's what our fans are for.  We love you guys!  We love how you lose yourselves in our stories and only come up out of them for air. We love how your lives are enriched or changed because of what we wrote, even if only for ten minutes. We love how you take it all in and revel in our rich world with lush characters.  If you want to know every single detail about a story, go right ahead. We write these stories to make a difference in your lives.  Fan response is wonderful.

I think about the Harry Potter universe, where fans have created encyclopedias, databases and more.  JK Rowling has mentioned from time to time how she's found them very useful when writing her last HP books. She might not be able to remember, but boy, those fans do!  If I ever find myself writing a multiple-book series, you betcha I'm gonna tap into the wisdom of the fans.

So yeah. Don't worry if an author appears not to be familiar with their own work. It's not that we don't care. It's simply that we can't remember.

Her Grace has forgotten just how many things she's sold, much less written. 

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