By Laura Drake
After fourteen years of trying, I signed with an agent this month! That’s a lot of years to keep at something. But during down times along the way I’ve thought back to the first spark of the story, to get the inspiration to keep going.
Before I learned to ride my own, I rode pillion on my husband’s motorcycle. A lot. A hundred thousand miles worth. That’s a lot of hours, and it was before motorcycle intercoms were invented. It can get boring. I learned to prop a paperback on hubby’s back and read on the long straightaways. But you can’t read all day and after awhile, my brain would empty of the day-to-day thoughts and cast about for something new to think about.
Due to the speed on a motorcycle, your memories come in snippets – you catch a snapshot and it’s gone: a small town celebrating the Fourth of July with a parade, the queen in silk on a hay wagon. A piebald pony, standing in knee deep grass in Utah, ominous thunderclouds in the background. A herd of antelope in Wyoming, racing our motorcycle.
Then one day, riding into the small town of Kernville, California, a dog ran in front of our bike. After a butt clenching scare, he trotted back the way he came, and we rode on. But I started thinking. What if someone came along and hit the dog? What if a girl riding a motorcycle came along . . .
The idea grew. It wouldn’t go away. I began writing ideas in a notebook in our tent at night. When we got home, I sat at my computer, blank file open in front of me. I wrote a bit, but mostly I fidgeted. I knew this wasn’t a short story – that might not have freaked me out. This was a novel.
But wait, who was I to write a novel? I’ve been an avid reader all my life; I knew good writing.
I dithered for a few years, at an impasse. Half of my mind wouldn’t let go of the story, the other half wouldn’t let me write it. Then one day, an amazing thing happened. I realized I had a ‘delete’ key on my keyboard. I could write the novel, and no one would ever have to see it!
Since then, I’ve learned to ride my own motorcycle. I found that I love the windy roads best – you never know what you’ll find around the next bend. It could be a snippet of vision that makes your soul rise – it could be something that tightens your sphincter. I love every bit of it.
I’ve told my friends, if someday, I encounter the end around one of those bends, don’t be sad. I went smiling — doing what I love.
For the same reason, I’ll never quit writing. I can’t fail, because it isn’t about getting published; it’s about doing what I love.
Where are you on the winding road? Is publication your destination, or something else? Any mishaps or memories you’d like to share?