A Hand-Drawn Map

I feel that writing a story is, conditionally, similar to taking a lengthy road trip. Here are the two most important conditions for this analogy: 1.) The author is always the driver, and 2.) The driving (writing) process is work, yes, but it’s not so mind-numbing. For this analogy, let’s say driving is magical.

So, I’m driving, leading my story to where it needs to go. And a drive it is; teleportation is not an option. Although I can’t make it instantaneously, I know my destination. I know where I want to stop and enjoy the scenery. I have a pretty good idea of where my roadblocks and pitfalls can be found; I even know what my destination looks like.

I’ve a hand-drawn map lying across my dashboard and a Grande Soy Vanilla Latte in my cup holder. I don’t bother gluing my eyes to my map. After all – I drew it, didn’t I? And if I pay too much attention to it, I’ll miss the beauty of the drive. So, I become immersed in it, happy to be lost in the journey. But sometimes I reel myself in, glance over to my guide…and I don’t recognize the road I’m on.

What? I didn’t plan this place; I didn’t even know it existed!  …but it’s totally fine. It’s better, even. I didn’t know this character had this depth to them. I didn’t know this conflict would arise.

It’s like my fingertips are mother Earth, and they unfold natural disasters before my very eyes. (Okay, analogy within an analogy. That’s allowed on a blog, right?) Maybe I’m taking detours that aren’t detours at all. The slight tilt of the steering wheel may not be purposeful, at least consciously, but it makes the drive better than I had ever imagined.

As a long time reader – a back-seat passenger, you could say – I’ve always expected surprises. I just hadn’t realized that my driver, who always seemed so sure of their route, may have been equally surprised during their first go around. I didn’t know that the story could lead me as much as I lead it.

Admittedly, I get lost a lot in real life. Wrong turns and all that. It’s more fun in this analogy… unlike real life, no GPS is necessary.




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