Contemplating Winter and Personal Alternative Histories
Krissy, looking out the window at the snow. We’re not expecting Snowpocalypse levels here, thankfully, but we’ll get several inches between now and tomorrow. I’m laying personal 50/50 odds that school will be canceled tomorrow, a thought which fills the child with joy. As well it should.
Reading about the Snowmageddeon in Minnesota reminds me of a personal inflection point in my life, back in 1993, when I was up for the movie critic position at the St. Paul Pioneer Press, and it came down to between me and one other fellow, who I believe was Chris Hewitt, the newspaper’s current critic (I could be wrong about that; it was a long time ago). Not getting the gig turned out all right for me — and for Chris Hewitt, apparently — but I do wonder how different my life would be had I gotten the job. At the time I had only just met Krissy, so at the time I wondered what would have happened to that relationship; I didn’t know at the time that she had decided after our first date that she was going to marry me. I speculate less about that part of things now, obviously.
What I do speculate about is what sort of impact it would have had on my professional life. Would I, for example, have started writing science fiction? I was pretty focused on my journalistic career in the 90s, and had I stayed in a stable newsroom situation, might have been content to keep doing that. Watching movies for a living was fun, you know.
Likewise, if I had started writing science fiction, or at least being more interested in it, would I have met the Minneapolis science fiction/fantasy contingent earlier? In the 90s, unless memory fails me, the Twin Cities SF/F community included Steve Brust, Will Shetterly, Emma Bull, Neil Gaiman and several other writers and creators whom I had long admired, not to mention a number of fans who are now current friends or acquaintances. I know all these folks now, but I wonder what my relationship with them (and with others) would have been in those differing circumstances. Not to mention, of course, how my fiction might have been different. I don’t think there would have been an Old Man’s War, although there might have still been an Agent to the Stars, or something similar to it.
Mind you, I don’t spend a lot of time spinning out alternate personal histories; generally speaking I like the course my life has taken to this point, and when you like your life, you (or at least I) spend your time focusing on it and not what could have been. But every once in a while it’s interesting to look at places in your life where things definitely could have gone another way, and wonder what way it could have gone. The Pioneer Press gig is definitely one of those points. I will say that no matter what, I’m glad to know the folks I know in the twin cities area, even if I don’t live among them. Or am currently experiencing SnowMyGod with them.