Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Tapestry Redux

Today, the Nobody Writes It Better blog officially shut down. While I can pinpoint the reasons for this blog's short run, I do not consider our endeavor a failure. The 2007 Golden Heart finalists were the first finalists to conceptualize, create and carry out a group blog dedicated to readers. We united from three different countries and twice as many subgenres of romance. We will always be Bond girls in more ways than one; and in that spirit, we have elected to turn our management funds over to an RWA-sponsored scholarship fund to help writers in need achieve their dreams.

So InkyLuv, walkingman's Bond-girl name for me, is no more. I did, however, want to bring over my favorite post from the NWIB run before it disappears or is relegated to Google's cyber-vaults forever. Appropriate today, because as you read this, I'm blessed to be spending this beautiful day with my Dad. Love you, Dad.

The Tapestry
(original post 9.16.09)

People who adore time travel novels cite different reasons. To some, they are the ultimate fish-out-of-water story. For others, the fictional journey is a classic game of “what if” with no boundaries, allowing the reader to revisit her life choices in a safe, fantastical way. The endless possibilities are enough to keep a writer’s idea book filled for three lifetimes. What compels me to write time travel stories, however, is one question:

How can a moment, a single thread running the length of our life’s tapestry, be so powerful and yet so fragile?

Before I was born, my father negotiated the sale of cattle, Brahma bulls more often than not, all over the world. He traveled extensively to Central and South America, often to remote agricultural areas accessible only after days of harsh overland travel. On occasion, the wealthiest landowners would commission pilots to fly him from major airports to their property on a single-engine Cessna. We all laughed during family slide shows at the 1960s pictures of him sharing expensive cigars and guaro with men who looked straight out of a drug cartel movie. It never occurred to me to ask why my father had stopped his travels abroad, why he took a job in another state, why he never really spoke about those days unless prodded. It never occurred to me to ask until someone mentioned he’d done what few can claim: He’d survived a plane crash in the Andes.

Low visibility. Pilot error. Maybe a combination. But to hear him describe how a mountain can rise up out of a dense fog bank, the precise sound of a struggling engine, the men in the cockpit who shared little common language but the greatest fear of human nature and how they overcame it all to help each other once down leaves this writer without words every time. The hour my father and I spent together on a drive through the Texas Hill Country last summer, him reliving every detail so someone would know, was a defining moment in our relationship. A true gift. A shared understanding of that one powerful thread that wove into the man he became and the fragility of all that moment could have unraveled.

To me, this is the heart of a time travel story. It is history and present and future intertwined in a way we may never fully realize until the tapestry is complete, much like our lives. It is the realization that one missed bus, one false move of the rudder, one single moment in time has the authority to change everything that comes after. It is the gravity of how that vulnerability affects our human condition.

Your turn. What do you believe is the heart of a time travel story? And, more fun than that, what is the most amazing/important thing ever done by one of your ancestors?


the walking man said...

You'll always be InkyLuv to me Laura, the femme hero who will rescue me from the evil Dr. NoWord.

I liked that story of your dad seeing as it is such a rare event especially in the mountains.

The heart of any time travel story is when the author gets it just right and places me in whatever time, for or aft that they are taking me to. That I have not to suspend so much belief to get me there.

My ancestors may have done some great things but my favorite story is how my step-grandfather played piano in a cat house in the roaring twenties.

Pamela Cayne said...

I remember this post, and am glad you reposted it here. It's wonderful. However, I am very sad about the closing of NWIB. I'll raise a glass (sorry--green tea, not green beer) to all you wonderful writers have accomplished. Thank you.

Jen FitzGerald said...

What a touching story, L.A.--moved me to tears just from this short share.

I'm glad your dad is still with you, and perhaps my tears are now falling 'cause I lost my daddy right before last Thanksgiving and the missing him still sneaks up on me.

Charles Gramlich said...

Great post. I think you're exactly right. We all do time travel in our head every time we remember our past. And the fascinating thing is bring together the past and present and having them interact in some fashion.

laughingwolf said...

what they all said...

happy st.paddy's day to you and yours, a great day to spend with dear old dad [mine's deceased] so enjoy him while you still can...

Todd Wheeler said...

Classic post. Thanks for 'reprinting' it.

Becky Sue Burkheart said...

I'm glad you reposted this as I missed it the first time.

As far as the time travel, I can only agree with you. It's the nuance of turning left instead of right, of rushing forward instead of pausing, or of getting behind that old slow truck on the highway and getting stuck behind the wreck instead of being tossed up in it.

so many seemingly trivial instances ... but each one defines our future.

L.A. Mitchell said...

@TWM-I sat with my dad in a diner at a tiny little airport in the middle of nowhere yesterday and a plane landed, a d-180-something-or-other, he said was the exact type that he went down in.

I think that's awesome about your cat-house musician relative :) That's what makes family trees so colorful, right?

@Pamela-It is a bit sad, but there are SO many blogs now and so many of us went our own way. Thanks for always popping over there to see what we were doing :)

@Jen-Oh, Jen. I had no idea. I'm so sorry for your loss. I had a great day with my dad and realized how very special it was.

@Charles-The way you said that gave me an idea for a story. Had to write it down. (As if I don't have enough) Thanks :)

@Laughingwolf-So sorry to hear that :( Happy St. Patrick's Day to you, too!!

@Todd-Thanks for visiting the 007 blog so often, even though it was VERY girly ;)

@Becky Sue-Good to see you around here :) I'm glad the post wasn't a repeat for you. If we only knew all the catastrophes we avoid, we'd never leave the house, right?

Becky Sue Burkheart said...

There is a movie about a guy that only has short term memory and it's filmed backwards and only from his pov. I wish I could remember the name of it. I think you would love it if you haven't seen it.

It's not 'like' Shutter Island, but it has that kind of tone and feel, but with the time element rather than the question of the drugs.

L.A. Mitchell said...

Becky Sue...I think it's Memento. LOVE THAT FILM. I need to watch Shutter Island, too.

Becky Sue Burkheart said...

Yes, that's the one.

Rick said...

What a great posting, L.A. I've had such a hard time keeping up these days while working on a new novel that I'd forgotten about you as InkyLuv! But that is an outstanding story about you and your father.

laughingwolf said...

thx lam, 2nd anniversary of his passing last month, but i'll hurt for a very long while...