I’m back! Back in Chicago and back on the blogosphere. The past few weeks have just been a little insane. We managed to cram in a yard sale, three family reunions, two weekend vacations, moving another family member, and finally moving ourselves from Salt Lake City back to Chicago. We drove for two days with our three young children and arrived in Chicago to sticky heat. I wasn’t breathing air, I was drinking it.

I’m rather a veteran when it comes to road trips. When I was growing up, every summer my giant family would load up into our giant 12-passenger blue van with the license plate that said 8SGREAT and we’d hit the road to California. We never really knew if we would make it or not. Sometimes we broke down in The-Middle-Of-Nowhere, Nevada and our aunt would come rescue us in her even less reliable Suburban.

My favorite memory is when the van started smoking and when we pointed the fact out to my step-dad he said, “It’s fine. It’s just blowing off steam.”

But it kept smoking and it got a little thicker, a little blacker and my mom said very sweetly, “Honey, I really think you should pull over.”

“Why do you have to be so negative! If you just don’t talk about it, it will go away!”

Well eventually something exploded. That something was our engine and we were towed to Winnemucca, Nevada and stayed in a crappy motel for a day until the local mechanic could get it fixed. To this day my step-dad says it would have been fine if we had just exercised a little more faith.

Why am I telling you this story? Maybe because I just like it, but I also think road trips are a lot like our writing journeys and life in general. We know where we’d like to go, but sometimes things get in our way. Road blocks, explosions, tornadoes and hurricanes. Sometimes we can get around those things and find a detour. Other times we have to turn back.

I can’t speak for anyone, I can only share my own experience. A little over a year ago I was still working on a YA novel I was convinced would be the one that would start my writing career. I loved my idea. I loved my characters. I worked on it for two years, feverishly revising, shredding it and writing again. I just thought that if I worked on it hard enough that it would become something great. It had to eventually, right? All I needed was to keep going! All I needed was more faith!

But the reality was that I was working that story into a dust bin. It just wasn’t going to happen. Furthermore, I had another idea working in my mind. A very shiny one. I clearly saw a new path that might just be better than the one I was on. Still, I hesitated. Was I giving up if I stopped work on my beloved story to pursue this new one? It felt like quitting, and I hated to be a quitter. I didn’t care if my story was up in black smoke, I was still clinging to the ashes. My faith would make it whole!

But I finally realized something: You can’t have faith in things that are dead.

So I made the change. I went down a new path and oh! What a wonderful path is has been! I loved (almost) every minute of writing RUMP and things have been working out beautifully ever since I took that leap.

Sometimes we don’t end up where we originally though we would, or at least we don’t arrive at our destination on the road we originally planned. Life has a way of creating bumps and explosions and all those fun surprises. So my advice is really simple:

If you see smoke, pull over.


12 comments

  1. I love this story! We never traveled much, so road trips with kids still intimidate me a little bit. But I love your analogy and advise. Thanks for sharing!

  2. SO true.

    I worked and worked and worked on my first story. It will never see the light of day. I may (in a few years) re map out the story, but I won’t use any of the original, even though I tweaked and twisted it a TON.

    Also – LOVE me a good road trip 😀

    • ali

    • August 2, 2011

    • 5:53 pm

    What a great analogy! Loved this Liesl AND I’m glad you’re back!

  3. So RUMP’s working out beautifully, huh? 😉

    It’s a hard thing, knowing when to let go of a manuscript. For me, it’s generally that moment when I lose my passion for the project. (Which isn’t to say the passion can’t be rekindled months – or years – down the line. But when it dies initially, it’s time to move on.)

    Moving on is tough, though, especially when a project felt different. And then ended up being the same.

  4. Eight IS great! Glad you made it back to Chicago, even if you’re drinking air. 🙂

  5. Haha. Great story, and great metaphor. We all have stories we’ve had to trunk. You’re a smart girl for realizing it and moving on. See what it got you? A shiny new agent. Good thing you saw that smoke. 🙂

    • Lisa

    • August 3, 2011

    • 5:42 pm

    I like how your advice can appeal to my non-writer life.

    That story made me laugh out loud.

    • Abby

    • August 3, 2011

    • 11:32 pm

    Hi! I found you through Jolene’s blog and had to check you out. I love this story. I had many of the same stories with road trips and don’t even get me started on BFE, Nevada. Can’t wait to see more of your posts. 🙂

  6. Hahaha! If you don’t talk about it, it will go away. LOVE IT!

    Except that yeah. Sometimes there are bumps. And sometimes you end up somewhere else. Sometimes a WAY better somewhere else. I guess sometimes we need a bigger push than we’d give ourselves to get there.

  7. Hey Liesl, I’ve spent the past several minutes reading several of your previous posts. Congrats on signing your agent! She sounds so great. And I have to say your book sounds so cute. I love that Rump is the unlikely hero and I absolutely love your first line. Good luck with your journey! I hope to see your book in print soon! It sounds like something my son would find hilarious. 😉

  8. I’m working pretty hard on my first story, and because I’ve done everything the hard way, it’s difficult to tell if it’s smoke from the engine or just my own inexperience. Congratulations on getting an agent 🙂

    I wanted to pass on the Liebster Blog Award to you. It’s one of those ways bloggers can recognize each other and share the love! If you want to pass it forward, see this post on my blog for more info: http://agirlandherdiary.blogspot.com/2011/08/blogging-bloggle-blogglestats.html

    • Liesl

    • August 9, 2011

    • 6:30 pm

    Thank you Abby and Mary! Welcome! Mary I hope your son will get to read my book some day. Thank you.

    Stephsco, thanks for the award! Love the blogger community. I’m going to check out all the details!

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