Thursday, December 12, 2013

Writing is a Journey

Over Thanksgiving week I had a chance to visit one of my favorite places: New York City. I used to live there ages ago, and even when I visited the first time, it felt like coming home. There's something about the city that's energizing and inspiring. I can't figure out what it is, but there's a reason so many songs talk about making your dreams come true in New York. Because really, when you're on the street surrounded by all that activity and creativity, it makes sense that you can conquer the world.

This is part of the reason I based my novel THE SHIFTING DARKNESS in New York City. It's a place where anything can happen. Down in the subway tunnel it's easy to wonder what's lurking in the shadows beyond the reach of the platform lights. Another more practical reason that I used it for my main setting is because I lived there and I was familiar with the locations I wanted to use. All except one of them.

Ellis Island is a key location in my book that I had never had the opportunity to visit. I really wanted to make it a point to get there on this latest trip. My husband booked us a room with a spectacular (albiet rainy) view!

I was so excited as soon as I looked out the window and spotted Ellis Island. I mean, all I had to do was peer out and see everything I'd studied so hard on Google maps. It was thrilling to see how much I got right. All I could do was sit there and stare as my characters came to life and watch as the events of my novel unfolded in my mind. 
“You are aware my labs on Ellis Island house the most renowned medical research facility in the country,” Alexander Lake continued.

Sidney made her way over to the huge window. The sun had set awhile ago and the buildings at the lower tip of Manhattan twinkled in the false twilight that always hovered around the city.
“Lovely, isn’t it? Mr. Lake is very proud of the view.”

“Get down!” Someone shoved her. The air hit hard and suddenly all she could hear was a high pitched ringing. She lay there on her back, staring up at the sky, thinking how pretty the smoke looked as it swirled up around the water tower in the middle of the courtyard.
In case you were wondering, that's just a hint of what it's like to be me. 

All I wanted to do was get down there and go exploring. From where we were staying, it seemed as though we could walk down to a footbridge and cross over into Liberty State Park, then catch a boat to Ellis Island.

The path didn't turn out to be very direct. Not even close. We had to go around a marina, through parking lots, past construction sites, and there were PLENTY of times we thought about turning around. 

But just when we thought we were at a complete dead end and we'd have to give up, we took a few more steps or peeked around a corner. Sure enough, we discovered a path to take us a little bit closer. Once we made it to the footbridge it was easy sailing. But getting there? It wasn't easy at all, and a couple of times it was even kind of scary. 

Now I'm going to get all deep and metaphorical, and compare this to my writing journey. 

Wait for it, I swear it makes sense. 

I've hit places I thought for sure would be a dead end. I've had rejections and set backs. A lot of times I felt like this whole writing thing was as pointless as... 

But I'm still going. Because, every time it felt like maybe this was it, maybe I was done for good... something else has opened up. It might have been an opportunity I didn't expect or see before, but it's always given me fresh hope and one more reason to keep going.

Right before I left for New York (as I was packing, in fact), I had another setback. A pretty devastating one. But a few days later... I entered Pitch Wars and I got chosen as a first alternate! So it just goes to show that you have to keep trying. 

If you want something to happen, you have to be prepared. You have to do everything in your power to be ready when good things come knocking, because you really just don't know what your path to publication might be.

How about you? Have you ever felt like quitting? What helps keeps you motivated?


Anonymous said...

I wouldn't even know how to give up on something I love so much and want so much. That said, there are definitely days when it feels like my dreams will never come true. But then there are other days when great things seem to be just around the corner. So, yes, you've just got to keep on swimming. Stopping could mean missing out on the wonderful things waiting around the next corner. Or the next. :-)

Alaskan Ninja said...

What a perfect metaphor. Every time I think I've reached the end of the road I look around and notice all the side streets.

I've read The Shifting Darkness, and loved it, and instantly wanted to share the experience with others. You can't be very far from the onramp; just keep your eyes peeled for those street signs!

ukash al said...

What a perfect metaphor. Every time I think I've reached the end of the road I look around and notice all the side streets.