[Originally composed August 2015, tweaked January 2018]
22 Years: False expectations of me from reading my books
"I have ordered old brandy; I know you adore old brandy."
"What makes you think so?"
"Oh, I have read your books: I know Lord Peter is a great connoisseur of old brandy."
"He is; that doesn't mean that I am."
"Oh! I thought you must be, as he is."
"What on earth have my tastes to do with his?"
From Mind of the Maker by Dorothy Sayers
I'll admit this isn't much of an anniversary essay, compared to some prior years. But I am very glad I chose the topic, because pondering it a few months back revealed a big blind spot in my planning for the Triune novels that otherwise might have remained unaddressed for too long.
The quote above summarizes the topic--it's easy to assume details about an artist based upon their work. That they like the medium they work in, for one...and while I do not at all enjoy writing for its own sake, I certainly have been a lover of story and a 'bookworm' ever since I learned to read.
Yet it's very easy to make assumptions that are false. The picture I made to celebrate writing one million words, some years back, summarizes some that are true: I love God's creation, and I love t'DoL. Yet I've also wondered over certain themes or reoccurring elements in my work perhaps leading a reader to make false assumptions, and about larger issues than beverage of choice.
A few are listed below, and if anyone should ever read this essay and think of others, I would be delighted to hear about them.
Quite a few key protagonists or point-of-view characters in my work are partial or total orphans: t'DoL, Geren, Hileko, Heruvael, Copper and some of the viewpoint characters in Delarun as well, though that is to be expected considering what the place was made for. Of course there are other key characters who are not, such as Daresh, Tarek, Hu-Hov, Hened, Adya. For the Triune novels, one pov character is an orphan, but the other three are not. Trapper Arun ran away from his family as a child, while Starthistle was betrayed by her family, and Housekeeper Giria is harder to define. The Shado was no more or no less abandoned than any of its other siblings, or most of its kind.
But me? Not at all--I've been blessed with a stable family and two living parents, nor did I experience the loss of a grandparent until I was grown. Or, for that matter, the death of a pet larger than a hamster. So in regards to untimely bereavement, my life does not match the stories at all. I think the theme that resonates instead is one of isolation and "unbelonging," and that is most easily explored and evoked in a character who has lost all or part of their family.
This isn't as strong of a reoccurring theme, but I've noticed it enough to wonder if others have as well. It's most clearly displayed with The Changer training t'DoL, then t'DoL with others like Hileko and Alrek (and Alrek with Lirenn as well), and also Talran with Trapper Arun, Hened with Hu-Hov, and Frost-scale with the Shado. Probably the reason I've noticed it is because I wish there was/had been such a relationship in my life, but there is not. Blessed are those who do have them!
My love for mountains I expect comes out in my writing, particularly with the reactions of characters like Geren, Copper, Starthistle, Hileko, others still-unwritten, not to mention the link between avarii and mountains. My love for forests shows up too, but forests at least were part of my life in childhood, particularly those of central Wisconsin, which remain among my favorites. Mountains, however, I did not encounter until the year I first encountered t'DoL himself--1993. I had read about them often enough through childhood (The Hobbit and The Horse and His Boy spring to mind) and certainly saw them in photos and video as well. But never entered them or walked on them until the year I turned 18. My personal concept of paradise has always, and will always, include mountains, and I still very much hope to get to move closer to them eventually, even if I can't live among them.
This is the item which makes me grateful that I decided to write this essay. Geren and his dogs, particularly in the first Geren book, set the theme of my being an animal lover, even before the Wolf Lord shows up. Yet it's the more understated relationship between the hyarmi and their cats (I wish I could say ponies too, ha ha) which matched my life better. Geren notwithstanding, I've only ever had one dog of my own, and might never again. Perhaps to the vast disappointment of certain of my readers (should I ever have them) I am more a cat lover than a dog lover, but honestly I love both. If the miseries of a "real-life" job and limited income/resources weren't such a bane, I'd also love to have birds, chinchillas, koi, rabbits, reptiles, miniature horses, and who knows what all else. But if I can't do it right, I'm not going to do it at all, which means I doubt I'll ever have a yard with a bunch of dogs like Geren did.
As for the reason pondering this topic makes me grateful? That should become clear if/when I get the second Triune novel written....