Thursday, May 3, 2018

Far from some things, close to others ( #Musings #PublishingDifficulties #RekindledRomance #NewDirections )

by Annabeth Leong

“I can feel the distance getting close.” - Tori Amos

This fortnight’s topic has made the Tori Amos song “China” run through my head every time I think about it, so I’m going to go with that. I first heard the song when I was way too young to know what it feels like for a long-term relationship to come apart in slow motion, but I felt the emotional impact nonetheless. Amos sings with an ache in her voice about the sense of growing distance--I love the line I quoted because as strange as it is to think of distance getting close, I think it’s very evocative of the sensation of a gradual estrangement that eventually must be acknowledged.

Now I’m old enough to know what it feels like, to know what it’s like to sometimes think the other person wants me to touch them but to feel so much distance at that point that I’m not sure how to bridge that gap or if I should even try.

To avoid getting completely morose as I describe this, I’m thinking about how the rekindled romance is actually one of my favorite tropes. One of the books I wrote for the now-defunct Ellora’s Cave, called Turn Back Time, was about this. A couple had allowed gradually increasing distance to tear them apart. They had separated, but the longing for each other was still somehow present. In the story, they receive a magical timepiece that allows them to return to the moments when they turned away from each other and experience what it would be like had they turned toward each other instead.

The book came out after Ellora’s Cave was well in flames. There was a boycott on, rightly so, but that meant that few people read the book and I never saw any money for it. It makes me sad sometimes, and that heartbreak created another sort of distance, too--from my writing, one I’m still trying to bridge.

Lately, though, I’ve been healing a bit from some of these things. Endings happen and so do heartbreak. Distance grows, but when I’m far from one thing I’m close to something else.

Life’s been strange for me lately. I’ve been across the Atlantic and back, and I’ve driven across the United States and back. So many distances, so far from home I don’t even have an address anymore. But wherever I am, I’m somewhere, and there are destinations I can choose to point toward.

In my rekindled romance story, the couple found their way back to each other in the end. They set their direction toward each other and began taking steps.

Now here I am, definitely going somewhere. I think it’s somewhere I want to go. I’m feeling better recently. I can feel the distance getting close, and when I see the next mile marker, I’m going to notice that I’m pointing in a direction, finding my way to things, both familiar and new.

8 comments:

  1. Have you republished your story? Don't let it languish.

    I wasn't familiar with this song. It sent chills down my spine.

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    1. Not yet, but as you can see in the sidebar, I've been (slowly) working on republishing my books from Ellora's Cave. 2/5 are out!

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  2. That story does sound intriguing. As an editor and in my own writing I've been getting more and more interested in stories where the characters already have, or have had, a relationship. You can get deeper into the characters that way.

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    1. Thanks, Sacchi! I totally agree that existing relationships offer interesting opportunities for writers.

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  3. When times get tough, take heart in the fact that you are at least giving your dream a try. The best part is you are working for yourself, not someone else. Keep believing in yourself, you will achieve your goal soon.

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  4. I agree with Lisabet, that you really need to get that story published again. You must have your rights back, since Ellora's Cave went belly-up. It used to be my wet dream to be published by a prestigious house like them. Alas, so many of them are/have closed.

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    1. Thanks, Fiona! Yeah, my experience with EC was a bit bitter. I was super excited to have "made it" and gotten a contract with them--but it happened right as things were starting to go up in flames. My timing couldn't have been worse. :( I'll let you guys know when I get that story out again. :)

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