Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Roadtrip of Writing...

Rather than dwell on my lack of advancement in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, I've decided to ignore it completely for now. I won't lie and say the disappointment has already vanished because that would be a lie. I won't say that every now and again, I don't have the urge to check the postings on the site to make sure I wasn't one of the winners. I'm not going to make up excuses or be bitter. I venture to guess that a large percentage of the semi-finalists have also had their share of rejections and disappointment and they are finally getting a chance to be read.

So, I'm deciding to embrace that which I do have in my life rather than what I don't have. For example, today is looking to be a beautiful day. The sun is finally shining, the trees along the roads that line my route to work have exploded into white cotton-ball-like blossoms with a few hardy pink magnolias thrown in. The tulips have budded, ready to show their blooms and the daffodils and forsythia each throw their indulgent yellow tones out into a world that has seemingly turned back to green overnight.

I woke up to the sound of Green Day on my alarm clock. For anyone who knows me, Green Day is my absolute favourite band in the entire world. I haven't gushed about how excited I am that less than a month from now, on May 15th, their new album "21st Century Breakdown" will be released. Consider me gushing now. Today, their first single from the album, "Know your Enemy", is going to be released on iTunes. As of half an hour ago, it wasn't there yet. I know because I already tried to download it. I'll be patient and get it tonight. I'm excited. Their last album, "American Idiot," is my all-time favourite rock album. It inspired me to write an entire novel. Even if their follow-up only has a couple of good songs (which I doubt), I wait with excited anticipation. Any day, like today, that starts with Green Day has to be good. It's a law. In my head.

I'm also grateful for Facebook. Through this site, I have had the chance to reconnect to friends that I haven't talked to in years but wondered where life has taken them. I'm in touch with some of my family in the UK. Through simple things as "Status Updates" and "Five Favourite Things", I can learn about them, see what they're up to. It's a powerful thing. Yesterday, when I was so deflated about the Amazon contest, my friends rallied in support, posting lovely positive praise about my writing and letting me know that this isn't the end, but the beginning. Sometimes you just need to hear things like that. Yesterday, I did.

My family is the same. They seem to believe in me, no matter how often I feel like I'm losing my way. My mother, especially. It's nice to feel appreciated. I know, as a writer, you're not supposed to use your mother as your 'Ideal Reader' (to poach a term from Stephen King). However, my mother is a reader. She's an extremely discriminating one. She is the one I can count on to tell me if a book I'm thinking about reading is worth the time. This is why occasionally I'll give her a stack of my unread books and tell her to let me know if they're worth my time. I'm lazy. She doesn't mind. It works out well. This is why I always let her read my stories and novels first. She is positive but she will tell me what's wrong with my story, whether the ending is too treacly, whether she doesn't like a character. It's a useful thing and it keeps me going.

I also found out I can now buy a house. That's a terrifying thing. I've been approved for a mortgage. Technically, the shopping can begin. I've never house-shopped before. I don't really know what to look for. I'm a bit afraid I'll find a place with a darling fireplace, a lovely garden and I'll forget that working plumbing, unexposed wires and solid walls are usually a must for a habitable environment these days. Still, it's an exciting prospect. It also means I'm really turning into a grown-up. That's a terrifying thought but it had to happen sometime.

So, though I'm still feeling the lapping of disappointment whenever I sit back and forget to block it out, it's not the end of the world. It's not the end of my writing. My characters are still in my head, waiting for their stories to be told. I still feel the tug of excitement as I realize my current novel is going in a completely different direction to what I originally planned. Though I did ask Gaz, my main character, if he'd have any objection to being turned into a vampire and/or being written for young adults. That's the target market these days, it seems, for fantasy.

Gaz said no. He wasn't very nice about it. Which, actually, given the fact that he's not particularly nice anyway, wasn't a surprise. I think I'll stick to keeping him who he is. Characters are far more interesting when you let them tell you who they are, when you don't try to make them into a cookie-cutter hero or a typical villain. I'll let him tell me his story though I might have to censor him a bit. He has a foul mouth that one. Throw in an East London accent and you have a very interesting man although he's made me promise I won't picture the Geico Gekko when he's talking. It's hard not to though. I love that lizard.

So, on this lovely spring morning, I'm accentuating the positive and ignoring the negative. It's getting easier already. Maybe it's the sunshine, maybe it's the fact that Green Day are back with fresh material, maybe it's the fact that I've realized, once again, having good family and friends in my life can make up for a lot of things I don't have. Whatever it is, I'm looking forward, not back. Like a smart friend said yesterday, roadtrips are often more fun than the actual destination. My writing is my journey, success is the destination. If I get there too quickly, I won't have time to wind down the windows, turn up the music and eat too much junk food. Road trips are the best things, especially when you have good company. I'm lucky in that regard; my friends and my family are always there, supporting me, entertaining me and reminding me to look out the windows and enjoy the view. Even when it's raining, it's still a good ride.

Happy Thursday.

1 comment:

Samantha Elliott said...

Amazingly well-said. I couldn't agree more. Plus, as a Texan, road trips are in my blood. Just don't forget the "people watching" part of the trip. A lot of the times, that's the best!