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Then and Now by FreeThinker


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Then and Now marks FreeThinkers's return to AwesomeDude after nearly half a decade. It's written in the form of a journal... known these days as 'a blog.' The story is set in 2005 but flashes back effectively to an earlier day. I don't want to give too much away, but this story will give you insight into a sensitive young lad and how he rediscovers someone from his past who helps him define himself.

Chapter One of Then and Now is available HERE at AwesomeDude.com. It is definitely well written and bears reading! We'll be posting two chapters a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays.


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Oh, here we go. Do I succumb to temptation and read Chapter One, and subsequent chapters, only to have to wait impatiently for the next one, or do I manage to control my impulse and try to pretend I'm not seeing those chapters being posted up there twice a week until the final one is posted, all so I can read it through with no delay. The eternal Awesomedude dilemma.

I'm very much looking forward to reading this. But, at least for the moment, I'll do my best to keep patient and wait.... (yeah, sure)

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Give in, Gee, give in. Go ahead and read chapter 1. You'll love it. And I guarantee no cliff-hangers to have you gnawing on your keyboard waiting, and waiting, and waiting for chapter 2.

Colin :icon_geek:

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I have always enjoyed the "diary journal" format in stories, it gives the author the opportunity to jump ahead while disclosing solid chunks of the plot. FT has managed to give us enough worthwhile information to encourage further reading. I for one will take it on one chapter at a time as it is posted.

I do have one wish, and that would be for a little relief on the formatting. Presenting such huge fields of text bunched together is a difficult read. Each block could be broken down into smaller paragraphs and give the reader's eyes some white space to focus upon.

Thanks for the story, FT.

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I think I like the book/blog style story. It reminds me of how I write emails to my friends, keeping them in my loop. FT, I think your story has a lot of promise and I am really looking forward to the next installments!

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  • 4 weeks later...

I want to thank FreeThinker for posting Then and Now here at AD. I found it heartwarming... the switching between the boy's blog and his dad's journal was a masterful piece of writing and enhanced the story greatly. And while it showed how changes heppen over the years to our dreams and our aspirations, we are not all that different from one another.

I thoroughly enjoyed Then and Now and FT tells me that bench in the title page picture is where he sat much of the time he was writing the story.

Again, welcome back FreeThinker. Can't wait to see the story you're developing for us now!

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Then and Now was different from other FT tales, which is something I strive for in my writing and recognize how difficult it can be to do. I thoroughly enjoyed this story: one of his best. And I greatly hope it's a harbinger for another spate of great FT writing.

If anyone hasn't read T and N, I heartily recommend it. You won't be disappointed.


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I'll second that motion, and look forward to more fine and different writing from Free Thinker. Then and Now is not only different from what I have read of FT's previous writings, it is different in the way it presents us with a whole new plot idea from what we've become accustomed to by showing uniquely and brilliantly an account of two generations of gay teen torment side by side and in comparison. Bravo for this, FT; a wonderful idea I might very well want to try myself if you don't mind.

And as the Actress said to the Bishop, "Come, my dear, and let us celebrate our differences!"


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Like Alone Again?

Okay, so maybe not that one. In fact I'm finding it really hard (shush Des) to discover any cheery Gilbert O'Sullivan lyrics. It seems my memory needs a re-boot. Humph. :alien[1]:


I've just finished reading 'Then and Now' and I must say it captivated me. Many thumbs up! :icon_thumleft:

I was put off when I read the first two chapters (during posting) by its blog structure, and gave up. I'm glad I re-read it. 'Then and Now' is far from being simplistic, and the characters are nicely handled. Also, it is a perfect length for its storyline.

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Thank you everyone for your kind words. They mean a great deal to me and I am very appreciative. As James pointed out, this originally appeared on Nifty seven years ago and as I was editing it and rewriting bits for it to appear on Awesome Dude, I found myself wondering, "Who's Ben Jelen?" and trying to remember cultural references to 2005. I had completely forgotten Jesse McCartney and I wonder if anyone today even remembers the iPod.

Yes, the bench in the title photo is the same bench on which most of the story was written in 2005 and edited in 2012. It is also the bench that a teenage FreeThinker sat on in 1973 and read an ancient copy from the library of Tom Brown's Schooldays (actually the bench has been replaced twice since then) and David Copperfield, and where I used to escape, and still do. That bench has been my home away from home for forty years. It is also the bench in the story where Toby and his father would sit and where Jeff met Tim on a snowy Sunday afternoon in 1973. I actually sat there on a snowy Sunday afternoon in 1973 and fantasized about meeting a pretty blond friend. I admit that I actually took some liberties in describing the park and combined two separate locations that were both important to me. This story is very autobiographical and Jeff is very much me and how I might have been had I met a woman in 1989 who wanted to share bringing a child into the world. I really was a snotty little prig in the ninth grade and, like Toby, even I today would have kicked the snot out of me back then!

And, my very first pet when I was six was a turtle named Toby. And, I did give it a proper Episcopal funeral when I was nine.

I am grateful you have enjoyed it. Thank you.

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As a rule, the 'blog' method of telling a tale turns me off, and I don't mind admitting I read the first few words and went somewhere else. Due to the length of this thread, I revisited the story today - and I had to read the whole thing. I was wrong, it is a good tale, well told and the method used, does work well here. So thanks both to Freethinker and the posters here.

I'll just go and stick my head in a bucket of soapy frogs...

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Rather than just repeat what everyone else has said about how wonderful a story this is (and it very much is) I'd like to point out one aspect that was brilliantly done and is the mark of a very talented writer: The written voice of Toby and his Dad. Both believable, both well done, and both completely and utterly distinct. Excellent, absolutely excellent writing.

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