This is not actually about Robert Frost, though his poem, with its image of roads diverging "in a snowy wood" has always spoken to me. Life is full of choices. Roads diverge all the time, and each road taken leads into events and possibilities that exclude other events and possibilities.
My very first career choice, so far as I can remember, was nursing. I was in first grade or so, and this choice endured until I found out about the blood thing. I'm not squeamish about dealing with blood, exactly. I'm just not keen on it. And I hated getting shots, so giving them would be, well, less than cool.
About the time I was rejecting my first career choice, somewhere around third grade, I discovered Greek mythology. The school library had the D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths. I fell in love with the art and the legends. I also loved their Norse mythology volume. All things Greek fascinated me. When I wasn't mooning over knights in olde England or warriors in medieval Scotland (our family can torturously trace our lineage back to the Bruce), I was thinking about Greeks. Odysseus. Aeneas. Penelope. I did notice that, apart from the Amazons (yay, Wonder Woman!) and the goddesses (yay, Athena and Artemis!), doing cool stuff in Greece was reserved to men. Since that was the way of the world at the time, I shrugged over it and went on, straight into an interest in archaeology. Then I found out about the bones thing--as in, digging up. Ooops, not for me! Another career choice shot down in flames. *sigh*
I liked to draw. I was also a fairly girly girl, aside from liking superheroes and displaying serious geek tendencies, so I thought perhaps fashion design might be in my future. I sometimes remember this when I watch Project Runway. I'm so incredibly glad not to be in that industry now. My clothing taste is way too conservative for the market trends. However, this interest persisted until I was doing college visits and found out just how much chemistry I'd have to take to major in design. I finally settled on a history major, which fit right in with my geeky interests and ultimately, via a long and winding road, led me to teaching.
After my freshman year in college, I transferred. I was thinking of waiting a year, but medical problems compounded my general unhappiness, so I made the jump. As a result, I met people whose influence led me to grad school and then law school and then to the man I eventually married, who nudged me into teaching. I also got to study Tudor and Stuart Britain at Oxford for a summer, one of the highlights of my life.
I sometimes think, what if I hadn't transferred when I did? Or had gone somewhere else? What if I'd pursued archaeology or design? Where would I be? What would my life be like? Is there a me somewhere who actually wore that wide-brimmed white hat with the veil streaming down the back at her wedding? Or do all the me versions wear that white floral wreath veil?
We make the same sorts of choices in writing. I've moved away from Restoration to medieval, but I may go back. I have lots of ideas for the period. I've also written a contemporary in first person. Will it sell? Will any of them? At this point, I have no idea. I hope so. Do I regret having written things that were not middle of the market? Not really. Sometimes doing something different recharges the batteries in important ways.
I don't regret any of my choices, but if every choice creates, as some science fiction writers and scientists theorize, an alternate reality in which the choice not taken becomes the choice on which we act, then what kinds of realities have I spun off behind me? Which ones have you created?
What sorts of choices have you made in life or in writing? Do you ever wonder where the other choice(s) would have led?
Late Bandit Booty:
I've been very bad about booty announcements this summer, so here are two that should catch me up. I apologize for the delays!
The winner of Julie Kenner's prize, a copy of Deja Demon, is Tetewa!
The winner of Gillian Summers' prize, a choice of either The Tree Shepherd's Daughter or Into the Wildewood, is Rebekah!
Email me via the link at the top of the blog page, and I'll pass the information to the authors!