If you have found a thing in life that enthrals you and enchants you, then, please, go ahead and pursue it. The world is full enough of people who force themselves to trudge in endless march through obligations, stress and furious activity. If you have found a thing that brings joy, that makes time seem both wondrously slow and strangely fast all at once, then chase it down and make it yours. It could be a hobby or an art, a topic of research, an idea, an invention, a handcraft or anything at all. It could be carving stone sculptures. It could be restoring old cars. Whatever it is in life that you find brings out the best of your attention, focus and pleasure: do that thing. This has, after all, been said many times, repeatedly, and by wiser folks than me. Seek the flourishing life. Follow your bliss. To thine own self be true.
I type this in Hamilton, New Zealand, the town where I grew up. I am back visiting. We are staying in a nice little hotel that understands the importance of having good access to a wireless internet. But it is always a strange experience coming back here. The town (technically a city, but really, Hamilton remains at its heart a town) has changed, and it has not changed. It has sprawled and grown outgrowths of bypasses and expressways, but there is more than one street or path by the riverside that are so much like how I remember them that I experience an actual shiver walking along them.
I remember a line from a short story I read years and years ago. I remember nothing much about the story itself, except that it was a New Zealand author, set in New Zealand, and the story was about going back to a childhood holiday place beside the sea. The line was something like, ‘It is dangerous going back to a place where you were happy as a child’. No doubt, the intervening years and murky memory have paraphrased the exact words, but the underlying intent is still there. Memory can be a dangerous place to wander, and going back to old places can cunjure up such phantoms as to be monstrous. We all have our things we’ve left behind, and sometimes going back and prodding at them can be a sort of sickly enjoyable experience, sometimes merely sickly.
Meantime, I’m working on what now will be the second novella in the Winter King, following on from what was called Crone of Bone and is now titled A Treasure of Bone and Promises. There has been something of a mixing around of my plans. I have already written about 160,000 words of material for the series, but ceased up a bit on realising that there was simply too much of a narrative jump between the first story and the second. I’ve gone back now to fill in the gaps, so to speak. The work I am hacking away at right now is (currently) tentatively titled The Wolves at Winter’s Door, although I’m also considering, The Apple that Blooms in Winter, and Where the Wind Took. It will be short, just on 20,000 words, or maybe a little under. I’ll follow it with one more novella length piece, which will take the story nicely into the material that is already written. It’s all a bit frustrating to put a halt on my earlier release schedule–I really, really thought book two would be finished and released by now–but I also think the series will be better on the whole for taking a step back and rethinking how best to progress things from the first tale onwards.
Beginnings, middles and ends are the stuff of story. Or, at least they are the skeleton that lies beneath. So here is a beginning. Not a very auspicious one. Not a very grand one. But a beginning nonetheless.