Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Column: The Three Fates by Karen Albright Lin

This week I have orange-hot irons in the fire. I’ve trained over many years for the Olympic sports of novel and script writing. But since who-you-know, timing and luck obviously play a role, I contemplate fate. More specifically what the Greeks personified as the Three Fates.

CLOTHO spun the thread of fate, giving us the inexplicable and irrational drive to be writers. Even now she sets us on a course that includes shearing the wool and combing the cotton, a million skeins worth. We choose colors, concoct patterns, then go about spinning our tales and repairing broken threads. She watches from a distance as we finally tie off our creations.

ATROPOS was the smallest of the Fates but most powerful. She could snip the thread at her whim. She teases us writers with her cruelty. She sends jaded pessimism off in the mail with submissions. She threatens to allow persistence, patience and dogged determination to atrophy. She chooses the manner of a dream’s demise if you let her. She’s the Fate to fear, for she can clip short a tenuous career with two simple words: give up.

LACHESIS stood between the two other Fates. She measured the thread of life, guiding the ups and downs, the spices that salt and pepper our lives. She is your critique partner’s feedback, the scores from a contest judge, the nudge or shove from an agent or an editor. If you pass her tests, she offers up compliments, first place awards, agents’ calls, sales, and bestseller lists.

When the Three Fates show up on the hearth when your author self is born, enlist Clotho (your flaming first words) and Lachesis (your magical path) in keeping sneaky, sabotaging Atropos at bay.

As I await word from producers and agents, I try to honor and be humble before the three Fates.

What mythical characters do you relate to most as a writer?

(Originally posted at the Sisters of the Quill blog on April 17, 2011)

About the Writer:  Karen is an editor, ghostwriter, pitch coach, speaker and award-winning author of novels, cookbooks, and screenplays. She’s written over a dozen solo and collaborative scripts (with Janet Fogg, Christian Lyons and director Erich Toll); each has garnered international, national and regional recognition: Moondance Film Festival, BlueCat, All She Wrote, Lighthouse Writers, Boulder Asian Film Festival, SouthWest Writers Contest, and PPW Contest. Find out more at