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.