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Change Is Gonna Come…

I’ve come to a glorious valley in the journey up Mount Publication and I have to take a moment to stop and stare.

Behind me are the crags of the foothills with wondrous villages and the occasional treacherous abyss to negotiate; I’ve navigated them all and still I travel on.

Wanaka Valley by EricPhotoCraftBefore me is a sumptuous valley full of promise and delight yet still there is the threat of quicksand and beasts that could swallow me whole.

I check my map and look back at the valley. It’s different. The plans I made were based on a false idea and now I must rethink.

You see, I forgot to allow for change. I’ve met challenges on the way that have made a difference to the path that lay before me, yet still expected The Plan to stay the same. Silly, silly me.

Even more so because the whole point of this journey was change. It’s the fundamental reason for any journey. I’m the main character in this tale yet I failed to see how I could be affected.

“You look lost,” a tiny voice said into my ear. “Maybe I can help?”

I looked around and saw nothing. A little flicker of light on my shoulder rose up into the sky and grew. It took shape and I thought maybe I’d found my Fairy Godmother.

“Are you my Fairy Godmother?” I asked, all hopeful. Then the light faded and revealed a tall man in a sharp suit, maybe even Armani. “Oh.”

“Yeah, didn’t expect that did you? Oh I’m a fairy, that’s not far off but more your Fairy Godbrother.” He tugged at his jacket and brushed off some dust, probably of the fairy variety.

“Well I guess you’re not here to send me to the ball?”

Valley Path by fdasuarez“You must be joking. That kind of stuff is too expensive these days, there’s been cuts you know. A lot’s changed since Hans Christian Andersen. Thing is, you can’t just say ‘and they lived happily ever after’ anymore. Nowadays you gotta justify it.”

“I’m not sure I follow. You mean I can’t just write about the journey?”

“Well, sure you can, but you need more than that. Back in my Grandma’s day – she’s the one that turns up in Cinderella…”

“Wait, you mean she’s real?”

“In this world, yes! Jeez, I thought you had a handle on alternate realities by now. Anyway, back in her day you could just have the main characters fall in love and everything came up roses. But now the people want more.”

“More?”

“What do you think this is, Oliver Twist? Yes, more. They want more fight in the characters and all that stuff, but that’s not what I mean. They want the whole journey, they want the emotional journey and not just for the main characters either.”

“What, you mean they want to know about the Orc’s feelings?”

“Why not? If you can show how all the lives change as a result of the story, your world will come alive. Not just that, maybe as you write you’ll come to realise that they have their own tale to tell. Hey presto, there’s your next book right there.”

“Ah, you mean like the Pax Britannia series, you need to track the changes and follow stories as they evolve?”

“Yes, and Discworld, the Doctor Who and Star Wars worlds, hundreds of stories but all moving on as changes happen. No-one wants to read the same story twice, do they? So why write that way?”

He popped a foot onto a rock in front of him, took out a handkerchief and began polishing.

Cherry Trees by Matjaz CaterI looked across the valley again. I realised that my journey was changing, for a while it wouldn’t be about climbing to get to the next part of the mountain, I needed to cross the valley and embrace the differences to The Plan. That’s where I’d find the next part of the story, maybe it wouldn’t even take me straight to the mountain, but the most interesting stories are all about the journey anyway. So before I took another step I decided to figure out what’s changed and make sure that it’s built into my new plan, even if it goes in a whole other direction.

“By the way,” the fairy reached inside his jacket, “you’ll need this.” He handed me a packet.

I pulled out the contents and found it was a map. When I opened it out, it showed the valley before me, but everything around it was blank.

“What good is this? It doesn’t even show the whole valley.”

“It will, my friend, it’s an adaptive plan and will show what you need when you need it. Not everyone can find their way like this but trust in yourself and it’ll work for you.”

So what could I do but try?

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