Wednesday, October 12, 2011

RTW: The Writing Road Trip


Road Trip Wednesday is a blog carnival, where YA Highway’s contributors and readers post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody’s take on the topic.

This week’s prompt was: What has your writing road trip looked like so far?

So I grew up in Massachusetts, and ever since I graduated college I’ve sort of migrated further and further south. (Incidentally, this usually happens in the winter. I’m not sure what that says about me and my connection to birds, but I’ll say one thing: I’m not blessed with the gift of flight.)

Anyhow, as you can probably imagine, a significant portion of my life has been spent on I-95 between Massachusetts and Philly, Maryland, and now Virginia. And most of that time is spent in Jersey. That’s for two reasons: a) New Jersey is the longest state between Virginia and Massachusetts, and b) even if that last statement isn’t factually correct, it’s the longest state when you count the amount of traffic you’re 100 percent guaranteed to get into.


The Jersey Turnpike is a little slice of hell where life slows to a grinding halt and somehow you have to pee directly after passing a rest stop, but you can’t turn around and the next exit is 7 miles away, which on the Jersey Turnpike is about two hours.

Well, for the longest time my fiction writing life was stuck on the Jersey Turnpike. I had started the trip fine, even making it through dreaded D.C. traffic. I was a professional writer, my dream, and so what if I also dreamed of writing a novel. Wasn’t being a full-time writer enough? So I sat there on the Turnpike, drinking Diet Coke and eating stale Oreos from the last rest stop, sitting in 500 different positions just to have something to do while the traffic inched along. All the while, this idea for a book nagged me and I told it, “Shush in there. Can’t you see I’m happily on my way? There’s no exit for miles. And it’s rush hour. What do you expect me to do?”


Then one day, when the idea wouldn’t let me go, I inched my way to the slow lane and exited. I had no idea where I was going or even if I was still headed north, but I was speeding along now, 55 in a 30. (Which, by the way, isn’t really that fast. I’m a strong believer that 30 miles per hour is a joke, because who on earth has the patience to go that slow when they’re obviously in a car to GET TO WHERE THEY’RE GOING?? Ahem. I might live in Virginia, but I’m a Masshole driver at heart.)

Right, so I’m currently taking the back roads to where I’m going. It’s taking longer than expected but at least I’m doing something other than memorizing the license plate of the car in front of me—for the twentieth time. I’ve stopped along the way to pick up hitchhikers—you lovely road trippers and other writer friends—so my journey isn’t in isolation. We tell each other stories and sing songs that are not “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall.”


I know sometime in the near future I’ll be stopping at one of those Cracker Barrels that dot the land between the north and south East Coast, and there I’ll try to woo an agent into hopping into the passenger’s seat and taking the journey with me. And one day, we’ll go road tripping to find the perfect editor to travel cross country with.

So that’s where I am. Somewhere between here and there, maybe in an iHop or at a gas station, speeding my way to my goal.

What has your writing road trip been like?

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