Alternate Paths

The top of the 2011 blog post that changed the direction of my writing life.

I just read The Midnight Library, and Matt Haig’s thought-provoking 2020 novel is one of those books that make you contemplate how life’s voluntary choices and involuntary occurrences can set us on alternate paths we might not have expected.

The Midnight Library stars a suicidal 30-something woman named Nora Seed, who, when in a sort of limbo between life and death, experiences various personal timelines that might have been. She’s a rock star in one existence, a scientist in another, an Olympic swimmer in yet another, unhappily married in one life, happily married in another, and so on.

Readers of novels like that could be reminded of previous books in which the fate of the protagonist turns in a pivotal way. We might ask: What if the title character in George Eliot’s Silas Marner hadn’t been betrayed by his best friend? What if the title character in Alexander Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin hadn’t rejected Tatyana Larin? What if the unjustly jailed Edmond Dantes of Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo hadn’t met Abbe Faria in prison? What if young Anne Shirley of L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables hadn’t been allowed to stay with the Cuthberts, who were expecting a male orphan? What if Guitar hadn’t misinterpreted what his friend Milkman was doing when the former spotted the latter helping someone with a crate in Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon? What if Magdalen Vanstone’s parents hadn’t been disgraced in Wilkie Collins’ No Name? What if the family in Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner hadn’t fled Afghanistan for the United States?

I could keep naming novels, but thought I’d diverge into how I became a weekly book blogger without really planning to — an example of an alternate path that happened to happen.

After losing my full-time magazine job in The Great Recession of 2008, I tried to make ends meet with freelance gigs while also contributing humor pieces to The Huffington Post — which scandalously didn’t pay its guest bloggers but idiots like me reluctantly went along with that because of the large audience. Anyway, one of my freelance gigs was proofreading for a service that helped polish the work of writers. The service did pay, but little enough for me to also write pieces for its blog for extra cash.

That group blog was mainly a place for how-to writing content, but I decided on one occasion in 2011 to go the how-to route under the guise of an appreciation of Margaret Atwood’s well-crafted novels — several of which I had just read. But the service wasn’t interested in that idea, so, what to do with a piece I had already written? It occurred to me to stray from The Huffington Post’s comedy section and submit the Atwood piece to the site’s book page. I did that, and suddenly got many more readers and comments than I was getting for my humor columns. So, I kept submitting literature posts and soon built a pretty large following — “meeting” a number of wonderful commenters along the way.

Although I’ve always read lots of fiction, it had never occurred to me until then to regularly write about literature.

Things eventually went downhill at HP — often-unresponsive staff (probably overworked) if bloggers had a question, problematic and slow moderation of comments (some killed for no reason and some not appearing for days), my tiring of the no-pay-for-bloggers exploitation even as I was bringing lots of visitors to the site, etc. In 2014, I finally stopped contributing and took an alternate path from my alternate path — starting this book blog on WordPress. There I “met” another wonderful community of people (all of you) who love literature and love discussing it, even as some commenters followed me from HP. 

My town’s library isn’t open at midnight, but it’s always great spending time there looking for books (many recommended by you) to enjoy and feed this blog.

Which novels have you read that made you wonder about alternate paths the characters traveled or might have taken? You’re also welcome to discuss that same question about your own life.

My literary-trivia book is described and can be purchased here: Fascinating Facts About Famous Fiction Authors and the Greatest Novels of All Time.

In addition to this weekly blog, I write the 2003-started/award-winning “Montclairvoyant” topical-humor column for Baristanet.com every Thursday. The latest piece — which includes thoughts on the U.S. Supreme Court’s awful draft decision to end Roe v. Wade — is here.

73 thoughts on “Alternate Paths

  1. Ah, now I see why you refer to HF words when referring to the Hard Farce where you once contributed.

    I want to think of a book, but my own life experience seems to colour my path.
    I don’t even know where to start and end. My entire life seems to be strange twists and turns, since running away from home when I was 16.
    I never “married up the ladder”, as my parents had dictated. (They were hoping for a Pharmacist.)
    Instead I lived freely with artists and musicians.
    I was thrilled to become the family’s black sheep.
    There were years when …. I did the opposite, of logic. (Like George in Seinfeld) It all worked to take me where I went, and where I am.

    Happy, content and constantly creating. (I sthis an example of a dangling participle?) 🤔😂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s amazing when books make us ponder and connect with our own lives like this. I read the Midnight Library last year and really loved it. I liked Haig’s How to Stop Time very much as well – a highly recommended read if you haven’t got to it already. Of course there are many forks in the road in my own life that I wonder what would have happened if I chose differently – the biggest one being – what would have happened if I never moved to Los Angeles? Although I don’t live there any longer, the big city made a huge mark on me and helped set my feet on the writing path that I am currently walking. A path I’m not sure I would have taken if I stayed in Iowa all my life. Maybe, but I’m not sure. But I am sure I never would have married my amazing husband if I stayed in Iowa – so that alone makes me very grateful I chose LA for awhile! 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, M.B.!

      You probably mentioned “The Midnight Library” in a previous comment months ago, so I apologize for not initially giving you credit for recommending it along with Rebecca Budd and Donna Vitale.

      Yes! Where we end up living — and how big or small, urban or rural, etc. that place is — can put us on a path that might have been very different if we lived somewhere else. And, as you note, where we live of course often determines who we meet — as was the case with you and your husband. 🙂 (I suppose I’m one of the exceptions to that; I met my wife while she was in Indiana and I was in New Jersey. 🙂 )

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  3. Well, thanks a lot. That’s what I needed another book on my booklist. 🙂 ‘The Midnight Library’ sounds very intriguing and I would have started the book right away, if I would have it laying around.
    It’s interesting how life works isn’t it? I functioned as a translator and interpreter for over 20 years, then, right before the 2008/2009 recession hit (because I didn’t see it coming) I decided to semi-retire and help my husband in his company. (I always wanted to sleep with the boss haha). When the recession hit his business and we lost everything, we moved and regrouped, and started (again) from scratch.
    I remember my mentor, who ‘made me’ as a translator. One day he told me to get a hobby. Find something that’s fun for you, you need balance to the thinking job. And so I did. I tried a few things, settled on furniture restoration and upholstery, and learned to fix wicker. It was perfect because we were newlyweds, and my new trade -first simply a need- later, when I got good became more than a hobby. When we regrouped in 2010, I made it my living. Today, twelve years later I have to push people away. I succeeded and I am having fun. What more do you want.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, nonsmokingladybug! Ha — I know what you mean about having a must-read book added to one’s already huge list. Kind of mixed feelings. 🙂

      Sounds like you’ve had a very varied work life, with some unexpectedness thrown in. Congratulations on all you’ve accomplished — and I’m impressed with your “multi-talents”! There’s a lot to be said for mixing working with one’s mind with working with one’s hands. (Of course, one also works with one’s mind while working with one’s hands. 🙂 )

      I enjoyed your comment — both its seriousness and its humor.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Whenever I find myself thinking on what ifs, I recall a line from the novel True Grit, “Looking back is a bad habit.” which I’m about to do right now. In your last post on police misconduct in literature, I happened to mention a James Ellroy book, and since then I have listened to interviews with him. I can’t say I like him at all as a person. This has always bothered me: How can I like an author’s books yet find myself totally incapable of liking the author? Any insight into my particular dilemma would be much appreciated. Although I’ve gone off topic here, I have to ask what if the truly horrible, nasty things we experience in life, whether provoked or unprovoked, actually do make us better people eventually i.e. A Christmas Carol’s Scrooge, et al. I have to say I believe no matter what occurs, things will always be the same, as to outcomes, that going back in time to change a particular thing makes other things arise which haven’t been changed. Time as the physicists tell us is about location, location, location. Then again times flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana, ha. Pehaps it is indeed aquantum physics thing and/or my penchant for darkness, the telling of any tale is finite according to its elements, so are there really any do overs? Yet it is so very tempting to fantasize about what ifs –guess that’s where’s the habitual part comes in. Great post Dave, congrats on your blogging endeavors. I’m certain I can speak for all of us when I say we are so very grateful things turned out this way. Ha, am I saying I’m glad you lost your job perhaps, then again in a parallel world you own HP and call it DA. Susi “We invented fire, repeatedly messed up, and then invented the fire extinguisher, fire exit, fire alarm and fire department.” Max Tegmark

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Susi, for the great and intriguing comment! 🙂

      “True Grit” is a fascinating and very wise novel.

      Liking a novel but not the author is something I’ve also thought about. I’ve definitely read books by writers who seem like bad people — not nice and/or racist and/or sexist — while feeling a bit guilty about it. But sometimes I pull the plug, as when I learned that Orson Scott Card was deeply homophobic. And in the movie realm, I stopped going to Woody Allen films when he got involved with the much-younger woman who was essentially his daughter or stepdaughter. (Then there were those later charges of sexual misconduct.)

      Sometimes going through awful stuff makes a person very bitter; sometimes it makes them a better person. It depends, I guess.

      “…fruit flies like a banana” — ha ha! 😂 One of the hilarious parts of your mostly serious comment.

      I ultimately WAS very glad I lost my full-time job, though it took a few years for me to truly feel that way. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • I agree re: pull the plug. There doesn’t seem a way for me, that is, to reconcile the two– good author/bad person. No one is perfect yet there are some individuals who are so egregiously rotten that their art does little to compensate for their overwhelming lack of goodness, nor can it redeem them. So I am spending time reading a rather slender little book about how really psycho the elite are, and thinking well okay, here’s the fly in the ointment, ha, and so aptly titled: “I Caught Flies for Howard Hughes” by Ron Kistler.. Thanks Dave. Susi. Btw, didn’t know that about Orson Scott Card, geezaloo!

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        • I hear you, Susi. But there are cases — as with Jack London (possible racist) and Dickens (possible anti-Semite) — where I find their books appealing enough to read despite their (possible) views. I might make more allowances for an author who lived a long time ago when bigoted views were perhaps a little more “mainstream.” Of course, those views are still way too “mainstream” today among many Republican politicians and their ilk. In general, re the book your currently reading, the behavior of the elite everywhere is indeed dismaying, with a few decent exceptions among those rich and powerful individuals.

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      • Hi Dave, unless I am mistaken many prominent writers, artists, and musicians throughout history tended to be rather eccentric individuals who were not particularly likable, I don’t mean that all or most eccentrics are potential creatives, its just that thinking outside the box seems to be a prerequisite for creativity in the arts.

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  5. I am delighted that you enjoyed The Midnight Library by Matt Haig, Dave. It goes back to the idea of lives we may have lived, the experiences that may have come from taking different paths and connecting with other, yet unknown, people. At my age, I have the benefit of looking back and identifying the exact moments that changed my life. Was serendipity involved? Did I come to a place at the right moment that prompted the decision? While we seek certainty, I believe that we make our most profound and life-altering decisions during times of uncertainty. The recurring question we must all face is: Are we living an authentic life.

    And speaking of serendipity, this morning I read an excellent article by Laura Barton entitled: “I yearned for a deeper, slower, more useful existence’: dispatches from the Great Resignation”

    I have been following the move by many in our society to rethink and reevaluate their lives and decisions. The pandemic has alerted us to look more closely at what we hold precious. I believe this is a positive step. I think you will enjoy this article.

    Laura Barton starts out with: “From the ad executive turned charcoal burner to the woman who built a new life in the woods, a new genre of books about radical reinventions is proving a runaway success.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/books/2022/may/07/i-yearned-for-a-deeper-slower-more-useful-existence-dispatches-from-the-great-resignation

    I am reading “The Woman in Red” by Diana Giovinazzo, which is the story of Anita Garibaldi, a 19th century Brazilian revolutionary. She was the wife of Giuseppe Garibaldi. She is one of the most revered historical figures of South America and Italy. What comes through is Anita Garibaldi’s determination to be true to herself, despite being ostracized by her family and community.

    Another wonderful, heartwarming, and invigorating discussion Dave. You bring out the best in all of us!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Rebecca, for the very kind words and the terrific comment!

      “The Midnight Library” is indeed very relatable and spurs us to look at our own life choices — including the asking of questions you ask in your first paragraph.

      That IS a very interesting article you linked to. One of the silver linings of the pandemic is that it made more people consider whether the life they were living was the life they wanted to live.

      I find books about the accomplished, often-overlooked or underappreciated wives of famous men to be fascinating. “The Woman in Red” sounds very compelling.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I had never heard of Anita Garibaldi before! She died in Italy at a very young age in 1849. Giuseppe loved her to the end. Years later, in 1860, when Garibaldi rode out to Teano to hail Victor Emanuel II as king of a united Italy, he wore Anita’s striped scarf over his gray South American poncho.

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        • I hadn’t heard of her either until seeing your comment, Rebecca. A shame the way the telling of history is geared too much toward men, though there have been some correctives in recent years. And poignant to hear that Anita Garibaldi died young, and about that scarf.

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          • Think Winston Churchill: “History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.” I believe that blogging/writing/sharing ideas is our way of writing history. It is the intention that is important to me. In all of your posts, Dave, I see the “tide of history” IS being corrected. I am excited that we are seeing new perspectives in writing in autobiographies and biographies to historical fiction and non-fiction.

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              • An inspirational and charismatic wartime leader, Churchill was also a compelling writer– even managed to make money at it at low points in his political career. But he wrote such history as unfolded around himself in a way that served his posterity a bit better than it served the unadulterated truth– which is why that quote always rankles me.

                As Prime Minister, he made momentous decisions on behalf of the British Empire– one of which was to divert harvests from India to elsewhere in the Empire during WW2 that cost many Indian lives. He was also a white supremacist and a tireless colonialist, which is most easily forgotten or forgivable by sticking to history as he would have it, for the most part.

                Also, he was during WWI, the chief hand and mind behind disastrous Gallipoli, which took the lives of so many soldiers from Down Under.

                If you leave his posterity up to him you’ll find more to admire– and there is much to admire– than if you leave the job to historians.

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                • “Night Train to Lisbon” a novel by philosopher Pascal Mercier, features string of happenstance events, some connected, some not so easily connected, that cause a divorced and repressed Swiss school teacher to quit his job, to travel, to learn a new language, and to inquire deeply into the life of a total stranger dead for years in a town he had never visited previously– and it all began, when, on his way to work one day, he pulled a young woman he never sees again from going over a bridge out of despair. His alternate path takes alternate paths by novel’s end, and there remain some loose ends dangling. Not sure the journey is worth taking, as a reader, but I know many find something profound therein.

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                  • This of course, began life as a comment on its own, but somehow, in the buggy format, having cancelled a previous reply, though the window was all the way at the bottom, this became reply under my others.
                    I may never get the hang of this thang, but I will keep everlastingly at it!

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                    • Thank you, jhNY! Somehow I wasn’t notified of your comments by email; just spotted them. Sorry for the delay in responding.

                      Yes, Winston Churchill was very much a mixed bag in all the ways you skillfully cited. Despite that, he has indeed been viewed by history in a more positive than negative way, and his own shaping of how his life and decisions are viewed obviously contributed to that.

                      “Night Train to Lisbon” sounds quite interesting. I appreciate the summary. Its title reminds me of Erich Maria Remarque’s “The Night in Lisbon,” and the saving-the-woman aspect reminds me of scenes in Remarque’s “Arch of Triumph” and George Eliot’s “Daniel Deronda.”

                      Like

  6. I’ve wondered how you got started in blogging. Thank you for filling us in! As I reflect on your “what if” question, I’m reminded how difficult it is to write a plot that the reader perceives as “organic,” arising from the characters’ responses and decisions, not “deus ex machina” because, as you note above, in reality, fiction is all deus ex machina, with the author being the “deus.”

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Liz! 🙂 I imagine a number of us started blogging for reasons that might not have been totally planned out in advance. 🙂

      And you’re so right about how tricky it is to make a plot seem “organic” when readers know there’s a “puppeteer” (the author) pulling the strings. Very well said by you!

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  7. Well, what if you and I hadn’t accidentally “met” on the Nell Harper Lee Facebook page? I would have missed out on a great “virtual” friendship, and lots of intelligent conversation!

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      • Thank you very much, lulabelle! 🙂 So glad we did virtually meet. I no longer post links to my blog on author pages; Facebook put me in FB “jail” for that for a week or so. (Didn’t seem like something to be “imprisoned” for. 🙂 ) But it’s great that that didn’t happen until after our Harper Lee page encounter.

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  8. I applaud your decision way back in the old daze of HuffPo– I encountered you in the Books section, and have enjoyed reading your essays and writing in ever since!

    Momentous decisions? I quit college to follow my musical dreams, so inspired was I by the outcome of a boxing match. I figured, as a young fellow might, that if someone could triumph over such impossible odds as that boxer, maybe I could win at the sport of my choosing!

    A year-plus later, I was, as Chuck Berry put it in “Sweet Little Sixteen”, “back in class again.”

    And 2 years after that, having graduated with departmental honors, I was back in the music biz, at least aspirationally. Book-smart ain’t always the best sort of smart to have….

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    • Thank you very much, jhNY! 🙂 Great to have “met” you back at HP, which, as you know, was quite a place to be while also problematic in various ways. Now it’s just a minor spoke in a big corporation, and nowhere near as interesting as it used to be. A number of the comment sections (in books, politics, etc.) were amazing!

      You really gave it an impressive try in the music biz amid your varied career. And quitting college was courageous. It’s frustrating when things don’t work out as we like, but of course there would be frustration (maybe better described as regret) if we didn’t at least try.

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  9. Oh Dave, congratulations on your increasing number of readers , so much more from this other place once known as HP ( now a sleeping beauty).
    I was there almost from the beginning , I don’t remember how I found you, from amazing Cara, LP ( wish both of them all the best )
    I am shocked though that I haven’t read any of the Atwood literature.

    Now your readers are increasing in multiple numbers

    Congratulations !!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you very much, Bebe! 🙂 So glad we connected at The Huffington Post more than a decade ago. It really was a great place to be for a while, and I miss many of the regular commenters there (including the two you mentioned) while thrilled that some HP commenters ended up here even as other wonderful commenters joined in in more recent years.

      As for Margaret Atwood’s work, none of us can read every author. 🙂

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    • Hi Dave,

      I’ll second what bebe said. So glad to have met you all those years ago. And it’s been an absolute delight to follow you over here. I’ve also enjoyed our online friendship through Facebook (although that might mostly be because of Misty the cat 🙂 ). I wish I had more time to comment here, or that I had new and interesting things to say. But even though I don’t comment as much as I used to, I always look forward to your weekly blog, and I enjoy reading all the comments. When I get overwhelmed by how dark and depressing the internet can be, I remember Dave Astor and immediately feel better. Thanks ❤

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      • Thanks so much for those VERY kind words, Susan! Greatly appreciated. 🙂

        It was wonderful to virtually meet you on The Huffington Post site, and I’m very glad you continued commenting here starting in 2014 — and that you still chime in when you can amid your busy life. It’s a bit more difficult keeping up conversations when we are in such different time zones, but it works! Your comments have a great mixture of seriousness and funniness.

        And thank you for being a fan of Misty the cat and his adventures on Facebook. 🙂

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  10. I really think things happen for a reason, job transitions,changes in relationships, even climatic changes that have been devastating to those who inhabit this planet earth, namely ALL of us.

    We are not “stewards of our environment.” I remember when Bloomberg was Mayor of NYC, he said this, brazen yet true. Perhaps humans are responsible for the health crisis, cv19 if one takes the perspective on how many mistreat animals,using scales of gentle pangolins for “medical purposes ” killing rhinos for ivory, burning, devastation of forests in Amazon for Palm oil,the list,sadly,goes on and on. Jane Goodall speaks to our destruction of the animal kingdom better than I could.

    As far as careers, jobs,purpose,I left a year before you from same corporate setting in the newspaper sector. Nearly a decade in this field. It’s understood Private Equity is the kiss of death for employees. Did you know Nielsen was just bought by another Private equity consortium? So it will always continue.

    Yet,these changes can shift people to reevaluate, cross over skill sets, perhaps go back to college for more education, etc. After I left the city I went into non profit, then insurance, then non profit, another detour prior to cv-19. After losing a non purposeful job that did not require a college degree, I went back,thanks to a grant from the NYS department of Labor,to a local college for a community health worker program. The internship provided a circuitous route to my current position, a job I needed an undergraduate degree for (yeah) and a few years of experience working with older adults, a position I took 2016 till 2019,despite it being a lower level,HS diploma only,it was imperative,would serve me well in my current position, by far the most purposeful job I have ever had in my life,one that affords me the opportunity to be a liason,a bridge to elder adults, most frail,vulnerable. Some I see in person,I’ve been in more homes the last 6 months than in decades. I assist, not rescue. One needs to reach out for help. Its a big first step for many in need..

    Summation: do not pidgeon hole oneself in one set mindset,business or personal, open up to possibilities. With inner confidence and support,one can achieve goals they may have not expected, continue to learn and grow, be humble, admit the not knowing, seize the day and stay hopeful not just for yourself,but all you meet in your life.:)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Michele! Many great thoughts and much good advice in your detailed comment!

      Things like devastating climate change are definitely beyond the control of any individual, though of course people (to varying degrees) have caused it. Actually, corporations share a big part of the blame. Individuals can help somewhat — driving less, eating less meat, installing solar panels, not voting for climate-change deniers (i.e. many Republican politicians), etc.

      But, yes, in many cases people have some control over their personal lives and work lives — though external forces such as awful companies have some negative impact. Including, as you mentioned, the disgusting scourge of private-equity causing many workers to lose their jobs or be miserable if they keep their jobs — all so very rich private-equity ghouls can get even richer.

      It’s impressive to hear how you’ve navigated your career amid a lot of challenges in an extremely difficult job market. There’s something to be said for the people-helping nonprofit world over the corporate rat race.

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  11. It’s rare that I’m disappointed in the ending of a novel that I’ve read and enjoyed. Unlike the novelist who controls the trajectory of the lives of the book’s main characters, we have no control over external events, like The Great Recession of 2008, that can trap us in limbo or force us to take a rocky slope uphill to find safety. Now here we are connecting over literature on WordPress. Would you have it any other way?

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    • Thank you, Rosaliene! Excellent/eloquent observation about real life (where we have only some control over what happens to us and virtually no control over external events) vs. novels (in which authors can completely control what happens to their characters, while of course trying to keep things believable). And, yes, whatever paths led us bloggers to WordPress, it’s a very nice place to be. 🙂

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  12. I’m quite touched by your story, Dave, which is certainly a great luck for all your readers, who enjoy and appreciate your special ideas and interesting posts about literature.
    As far as your question is concerned I think of “Lélia, òu la vie de George Sand” by André Maurois and what would have become of George Sand, had she only had her mother Sophie Victoire Delabord and not her grandmother, Marie-Aurore de Saxe, who brought her up at the chateau Nohat.
    Thank you very much:)

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  13. Hi Dave, thank you for sharing a little about your work life. I found it very interesting. The life of a writer is never easy, is it? Now, books where a different decision by the MC or a supporting character might have changed the entire course of the MC’s life. The first one that comes to mind is Tess of the D’Urberville’s. If Angel hadn’t rejected Tess so selfishly and been such a sanctimonious man, they could have been happy together instead of Tess hanging for murder. The Railway Children, if Bobby hadn’t thought of a way to stop the train and prevent an accident, the whole story of the children’s lives might have changed. Jane Eyre, if she had not run away, maybe the mad woman might have burned the mansion down with her in it. And then there are my Sir Chocolate books, if Sir Chocolate hadn’t been kind and saved the trolls the gingerbread church would not have been built and the condensed milk river would not have been unblocked resulting in the deaths of all the fish who lived in it [Grin!]

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    • Thank you, Robbie! You’re so right — a writer’s life is rarely easy, but of course can potentially be very satisfying. And if someone has the urge to write, it’s wonderful to have that as one’s job, or one of their jobs.

      Also, those are several terrific examples of fateful decisions and behavior that had a huge impact — including in your own work! Things could have ended up so differently, as you note.

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      • Hi Dave, I never thought about writing as a career. I didn’t know anyone who worked in that sort of field and writing books seemed very out of reach of regular people. I didn’t really view authors as being people at all, isn’t that funny. I went the chartered accountant route because it was recommended to me when I took an aptitude test at university. I ended up writing documents and publications. Quite strange, really, that I ended up on the writing path despite my mathematical inclinations.

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        • Writing books does seem unattainable for many people when they’re young. I happened to have a career as a journalist and a columnist, meaning I met many people along the way who had also written books. So that didn’t seem so exotic. 🙂

          You are the rare person with a very accomplished liberal arts mind and a very accomplished mathematical mind. Being both a left-brain and right-brain person, I guess. 🙂

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          • HI Dave, yes, I am both mathematical and artistic and the mixture benefits me in both of my careers or hobbies, depending on how you look at them [smile]. My sister is a copywriter. She is a director and has a team that work with her. She is very good with words but hasn’t been able to finish writing either of the books she’s attempted. I think its because there is more pressure if your paycheck job is in the writing field. No-one I work with would dream of writing so I don’t have that sort of pressure.

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  14. My life took a very unexpected turn in 2019, when I was laid off from then-Verizon Media, ironically, the company who had nurtured Huffington Post as part of its portfolio. 🙂 I had been with legacy parts of the company, beginning with AOL, for 13 years. I rode out well over 20 layoffs, and worked with 8 managers. I’d been with the company before it left the Time Warner family, through spinning into a public company, and through an acquisition by Verizon. When my time came amid yet more organizational changes, I felt I’d had an interesting, at times exciting, and generous run. I still cried! 🙂
    Having worked since I was 15 and literally never not having a job, my first thought was, “Get a job!” Someone mentioned that, in the meantime, while I looked for a job-job, they could use some help on a consulting project. I set up my own business as a consultant, and within about a month I was asking myself why I hadn’t done this before, and why I would ever consider working for anyone else. I mean, I’d had some good bosses, but really, I was my own Best Boss Ever!! My work life balance and lifestyle are so much better. I would never have ended up there from the path I’d been on.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Thank you, Donna! Very interesting, and very well described! A sobering experience in a way, but mostly an inspiring one. Wonderful that you set up your own business, and that you enjoy being your own boss. What better boss for anyone to have but themselves? 🙂

      My experience has some similarities. When I was laid off in 2008, I had never been without a full-time job since I graduated from college. I definitely had some financial struggles for a few years, but ultimately made ends meet when my wife and I sold our house and moved to an apartment. And I love freelancing after — like you — having some good bosses but also some horrible ones over the years. Also nice not to have to commute, and to have a flexible schedule of when to work and when to do other things.

      Re The Huffington Post getting purchased (twice), unpaid bloggers were outraged that not a cent of the tons of money pouring in went to them. 😦

      Like

    • Thank you, Donna! Ha! 🙂 “The Midnight Library” is indeed a thought-provoking, moving novel. Thanks again for being one of the people to recommend it! (Your comment posted a minute before my credit comment. 🙂 )

      Liked by 2 people

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