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.
All 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.