Monday, July 27, 2020

Déjà vu and Karma

In the wise words of Britney Spears, "I did it again."

I started the novel over...again. But I'm still not sure if I will be abandoning the 230 pages I have already written this year, or if I will be incorporating most of that in my new revision.

I swear it wasn't my fault. I decided to take a break from the novel since I was not 100% sure where I wanted to go next in the plot. While on that break I wrote a few short stories --one of which was a prequel to the novel. Now that I have read (written) what happens in the galaxy before my novel occurs, it changes everything! (Not everything, that was a little melodramatic.) But one of my major subplots no longer makes sense. 

The truth is, it needed to be done anyway. This is the difference between writing for my own pleasure and fully plotting a story for the pleasure of others. Face it, we all cut corners when no one is looking, and that is what I was doing. I was only writing the subplots that I enjoyed, the ones that made me feel happy and excited. But that is not life.

When I used to teach problem and solution in story telling, I always used Cinderella as an example. No one would care about Cinderella if her stepmother hadn't been such a cranky old bat with a royalty complex. When I look at my own original plot from four years ago, and the revised plot from this year, they both have plenty of conflict. But perhaps it is not the right kind of conflict, or the depth. Cinderella wasn't just a poor girl who had no shot at going to the ball, she was basically a house slave, who was tortured from childhood. The woman who was supposed to be her mother, was more like a prison warden. Her father died suddenly, and she was completely abandoned. When she finally thought she had a chance, it was crushed and shredded by her own family. It didn't stop there, she was pushed down, time and again. Every hope was extinguished. She worked hard and deserved to be rewarded. Why did all of this happen to her? We don't know. Did she deserve any of it? I think that good stories don't answer that question. That is what makes the characters relatable --they have to deal with reality just like us.

One of my very young coworkers asked me today if I believed in Karma. I quickly said, "Yes," without even thinking about it. But honestly, I haven't believed in Karma for a long time. I used to think that if I was a good person, good things would happen to me. But that is a very naive thing to believe, and I didn't have the heart to say it out loud. "I'm too old to believe in Karma," is what I should have said. 

If you have not read the book "The Lost Horse," by Ed Young, you should go look at it. It is a children's book that has been translated from an Ancient Chinese tale. To summarize, a man has a really awesome horse, that one day runs away. Everyone thinks it is so awful, except the man, who says, "It might not be a bad thing." Then the next week the horse returns with another horse, so now he has two. Everyone is excited, except the man who says, "It might not be a good thing." A few days later, the man's son falls off the new horse and breaks his arm. The story continues like this with everyone assuming an event is bad or good, and the man refusing to pick an adjective. I like the man in the story, and he is the reason Karma is not real to me. All events are just that --events. Nothing defines them as good or bad except our own perception. Although all events in our lives are connected, they are not necessarily directly linked by cause and effect, and certainly not by a tally of what is deserved.

It is time to give my characters some flaws and send them into a realistic world where they can't rely on Karma. 

Remind me some day to tell you the story about the time Buddha was our chef at a hibachi restaurant in Arkansas and convinced my husband and me to have a second child.


  1. I think it's brave to start all over! I always end up trying to fix what's already there, and maybe don't write enough new scenes... It's easier to delete bits than to add whole new plot lines, sometimes!

    1. Thanks for the encouragement! It's so tricky because we get so attached to the things we create. I'm trying to learn to let go.