Uncertainly Ever After

I’ve just sent Miss Devoted to the proofreaders (Happy New Year!) and this tale concludes as so many romance do, with love conquering all. Two characters who thought they knew where their path lay in life on page one have by the end of the book instead chosen love and all the uncertainty attendant there to.

When Michael Delancey and Psyche Fremont make that choice, they have to give up all the comforts of predictability and control, and instead learn to hold the balance between hope, adaptability, risk, and trust. When Samuel Johnson characterized second marriages as the triumph of hope over experience, he was missing the point. Somebody who can love after a significant loss has learned to weather uncertainty with courage and hope.

The pandemic gave us many opportunities to improve our tolerance for uncertainty. We go to the store, and still–still–know that some items we rely on won’t be in stock, or won’t be stocked in adequate quantity. So we just change our menus and hope for better luck with the avocados next week.

We plan a trip, knowing everything from weather turbo-charged by climate change, to the ubiquitous staffing shortages, to viruses that refuse to go away, might torpedo our plans. We travel anyway, and pack extra masks. We take on a new job though the work from home option might be shortly curtailed. We try the job on anyway.

Despite all of the maybes, what-ifs, and not-agains, we go forth, and have a new appreciation for how much security we took for granted a few years ago. That was then. And if we don’t build up our tolerance for uncertainty, then our alternative is to dither over all decisions, avoid any and all risks, and generally limit our lives and our relationships in the name of safety.

As a self-employed author, I have to make friends with uncertainty. People aren’t reading as voraciously as they did two years ago so sales are down (or more accurately, back to normal), but–thank the merciful powers!–I can once again nose around out in the world where most of my inspiration comes from, and that is a good trade. Artificial intelligence is threatening to destroy the whole career field of fiction writing; big tech has devalued books relentlessly; and pirates steal from authors daily with smug impunity.

Miss Devoted by Grace BurrowesAll true, but the world will also always need good stories, and I delight in trying to write them. Then too, part of what I hope good fiction does is fortify us again the buffeting of uncertainty. Romance tells us love triumphs, mysteries reassure us that the truth will out, and thrillers posit that one person can save the world if they’ll simply persist. I like hearing those messages, and that won’t change no matter in which direction the winds of fortune blow.

What risks do you take on willingly? Are you more or less tolerant of uncertainty than you were earlier in life? I’ll add three commenters to my ARC list for Miss Devoted.

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13 comments on “Uncertainly Ever After

  1. Mmm, good question! I hope that meditation has made me more comfortable with uncertainty. We have NEVER been in control, it’s just that Covid laid that fact bare for many of us. A sobering realization!

  2. I am more and less tolerant of uncertainty that I used to be. At my age, I know that the only thing certain is change (somebody before me said that) but emotionally, I don’t have to like it. I am an eldest child and have always been a bit of a control freak/perfectionist (though I expect more perfection from myself than from others and know I cannot really control anybody else) even though life is too uncertain for true perfection or control. I have always been risk-averse and COVID has made me more so since I am in the age group that is more vulnerable.
    The one risk I did take was to go to my niece’s wedding in October. With the bride’s permission, my partner and I wore our masks even though we turned out to be the only ones of the about 200 guests who did so. But we didn’t get sick so I count it as a win. And I’m glad I went, but that was enough “peopling” to keep me at home for the holidays. Now I am planning to risk having surgery to replace at least one of my knees in the next couple of months even though the new variant is even more contagious. But I’m going to have to take that risk because my knees hurt too much to put up with any longer.
    I don’t read thrillers much but romances and cozy-ish (or least not too bloodthirsty) mysteries keep me going, probably for the reasons you gave.
    I hope you are able to keep writing good stories and I am able to keep reading them. And Happy New Year to us all!

  3. A framed poster of the philosophy popularized by Mother Teresa, “Do It Anyway” is the first thing you see entering our daughter’s home. Nothing has ever come easily for her. She has persevered and remains a bit of a marvel to this mom. And I will read about doing it anyway, especially in HEA fiction form. For one thing, most of the messy bits are tidied up in a certain number of words!

  4. Since a year ago November 1st, I’ve had a truly life changing event. I shattered my tibia and spent a month in the hospital getting myself to walk again using a walker. So here I am, 59 years old and having to use a walker.
    My uncertainties have certainly increased. My balance is now kerplooey and I have to think about everything I want to do. Will my rollator or walker fit in the car? Can I maneuver over the ground? Are there stairs? How far do I have to walk?
    I have developed an improved sense of humor, an improvement in my religious habits, a chance to explain to kids that someone with a walking aid is not weird, and an ability to ask for and accept help. A lot of help. I’ve also started practicing the piano again and starting to paint again.
    I read more also.
    But truly it’s just one more adventure in my life. Isn’t it a curse in some cultures–“May your life be interesting.” So I here I am with so dang much interest in my life. Every day is an adventure.

  5. I think life is all about uncertainty, all the time. We are complacent expecting life as we know it to continue as it is when the only constant is change. At the age that I am now, and with most of my family older than I am, I know that I have losses ahead. I try to counteract that with being grateful today for my family and friends, those still with us and those who have gone before.

    I’ve never been big on taking risks, but thinking about it, I’m more averse to risk now than when I was younger, because I know that I can be hurt. Dislocated elbows hurt! I have balance issues, which definitely has made me a lot more careful than I would like to be. I had to give up going fossil hunting because I can’t safely walk on uneven ground – but I got to do it for years. I am happy and grateful for the privilege of growing older.

    Thank you for writing all of those lovely books. They have given me and continue to give me so much pleasure.

  6. Someone recently asked me if I had regrets on my choice of husband many years ago.How do I answer that I thought to myself!!!.I was married for twenty five years and have been on my own twenty seven years.This was my choice and until recently suited me fine.I will be seventy five in two weeks time and wonder if my life would be more fulfilling if I had risked loving and trusting someone again.Being older does not always bring wisdom or courage.But neither does a memory of abuse and control fade quickly.I learned to trust my gut feelings and went with it.However I do take calculated risks in other areas.I love to travel,try new foods and meet interesting people.I love my country and town where I live.Reading is my favourite pastime and walking the coast clears my mind.My family are nearby and I am very much the grandmother who sits in the corner but not always quietly.I still have things to say!!!!.One thing I have learned_____Risk is with us always and cannot always be assessed.Thank you Grace for the fabulous story of lady Violets HEA.A good New Year to you.

  7. I think I have become more risk averse as I’ve gotten older, not that I was ever a free wheeling risk taker as a young woman either! I think I come from a long line of risk averse people; my Dad was always fearful of violence affecting one of us, of injuries that would be life threatening, pretty much everything. I don’t think being the way that I am has negatively impacted my life in any way—I haven’t planned any bungee jumping or parachuting adventures in any case! And my kids know, “it’s just Mom” when I caution them about anything. I guess the biggest risk I have ever taken was falling in love with my husband, a risk that has paid off handsomely, for the past 44 years and counting! Stay safe. Stay well everyone!

  8. I am consciously trying to tolerate more risk. I used to be comfortable with a lot of uncertainty, though I never was one who chased risk. After spending 14 years (my youngest child’s life thus far) with one serious thing after another emerging as a challenge for them year in year out, I’ve found I am very risk averse and worry prone. It felt like just keeping the boat afloat when there was a giant wave every time I turned around was all I could do, why court disaster? Things are stabilized for the first time now, they are gaining physical and mental health, and I am trying to get that old more tolerant and relaxed with change and transition and uncertainty self back. It is a 2023 (plus) goal and I have to say I am looking forward to having the energy reserves and the openness to finding joy in potential again.

  9. At 70 and immuno-compromised, I am more risk-averse as time goes on. Falling, getting deathly sick, a monkey wrench in my traveling plans while on the road,etc., can have PERMANENT, very unpleasant consequences for me.

    As for big tech devaluing books, you certainly can’t tell that from the price now being charged for ebooks! They’ve gone from an average of 4.99-6.99 to still climbing in the teens. And that for books in the cloud that we don’t really “own,” so can’t share, and can’t swap or sell secondhand. (Except for some authors like you, Grace, who kindly send us actual digital copies, in a variety of formats.)

  10. I have been intolerant of most risks for many years. I became that way due to several years of indescribable pain & sorrow. An abduction & gang rape, a bigamist destroying my finances & future all left me frightened & insecure. My big risk was to trust a man who asked me to trust him not love. I did and I have known great love and friendship with him for almost 41 years. Because of his belief in me & his support along with my faith I have overcome my fear of risk to achieve many of my dreams, yet the fear remained.

    Then in March I was told I have an non-treatable and terminal brain tumor. I will die. It is doubtful I will live more than 2-3 more years. The oddest thing has happened. My fear is gone. Risks are nothing now. I want to take the road untraveled, the choice I was afraid of, eat dessert first and who really cares what size my rump is?

    I published a book and I’ve been too afraid for 60 years to do that. I want to sell the house and travel while living in an RV. I want to scuba dive, parachute, visit India, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. I now tell my grandchildren, go for it forget the risks and TRY! The worst that can happen is they fail & try again. LIVE! I’ve left my turtle shell of safety and jumped into the deep end of life’s swimming pool. I don’t wear a mask so I can SMILE at people. (I hear y’all screaming but it’s actually okay & people have responded wonderfully.)

    I’ve met the most wonderful people since March. I road on a Harley with coolest young man I met in a cafe. I simply walked over to a stranger and said “Excuse me, I have terminal cancer & I’ve always wanted to ride on a Harley but I’ve been too afraid all of my life. Would you take me for a short ride?” He jumped up, bowed and said it would be his honor. It was incredible. And this lovely young man actually calls me every 2-3 days now to check on me. I made a friend from a stranger in leather pants and motorcycle patches. My daughters were horrified and waited anxiously in the cafe.

    I could talk for hours about this change but instead I’ll simply say, push past the fears! Live the life you dream of but have been too afraid to even try. Do it today because that “someday” you keep talking about may not be yours. Wear leather pants even if you’re a size 22, put on false eyelashes your mom always said were slutty, buy red boots, ride the motorcycle, jump from the plane, write the book, paint the pictures, take off the mask, talk to strangers, take the trip, learn to play guitar, do whatever you dream of. Fulfill your dream. LIVE every single moment with joy and excitement.

    I’m going to die but I refuse to go softly into someone’s good night. I’m going to go sliding into heaven loudly, in a flash of fireworks and a scream of joy on my lips.


  11. Oh, dear. My risk taking involves people. I will talk with anyone about anything. I’m not afraid to share and risk being rejected. I can’t stop myself. I’ve learned tojust move on. What’s changed for me because of the pandemic is I’ve become more closed off. I stay in my house unless I have to leave. No even to go for a walk. I’m not afraid, I’m just uninterested. I worked through the pandemic due to being in retail at an essential store. My experience with nasty people has put me off. I love reading and do so a lot. It’s an environment I know and trust. But I don’t take risks anymore.

  12. I am less tolerant of uncertainty the older I get. I think it’s because I realize more of the consequences.

    Can’t wait for “Miss Devoted”!! 😀