Challenge of writing fiction

In high school I hung out with the theater/music/arts/protesting hippie crowd. These were a bunch of really interesting people. One thing we liked to do was get up into the wild hills above the city. If it was daytime we would hike. At night, we talked about big things -- the way the world was, what we wanted, how we would get there, what we hoped we could change. Lots of philosophizing. One of our group, Roo Borson, was an especially serious, deep thinker. Staring down into the bowl of the bay area one night at all the twinkling lights, she said, "have you ever imagined how many other ways your life could go? How many different possibilities there are? Infinite."

I was staggered.

Now, I think of Roo's sentences as I write a novel. The possibilities are infinite. I have some lovely, earnest, difficult characters, and who knows what they will do? How will they really feel and act when the going gets tough? This is where non-fiction writing is so much easier. Something really happened. My challenge with non-fiction is to do a good job with those facts, dig deep for how people really did react when the going got tough, and make it a fascinating read. There is a map.

With fiction, there's no map, just infinite possibilities. But today, I feel I may have found the right path, and I'm trusting my feet will find their way.

Beautiful, deep thinking Roo Borson has gone on to become an acclaimed poet. She continues to stare fearlessly into the infinitude and bring us back possibilities, wrapped up as poems.