I'm not known for my excellent sense of direction. As a matter of fact, if you ask anyone in my family, they will likely tell you that I suck at navigation. If I say "Go right," there's a good chance you should go left. I'm constantly running in circles, staring blankly at street signs, and sheepishly buying maps at convenience stores.
So it will probably come as no surprise to anyone that I got lost on my way to the airport yesterday.
I dragged myself out of bed at six to catch an early flight to D.C., to visit my parents and sister. Someone forgot to remind me that there is currently a buttload of road work in Colorado Springs surrounding the airport, and that road work caused many detours and backtracking and cussing at vehicles which didn't do anything besides get in my way, and by eight-thirty... I had missed my flight. Not the best way to start a vacation.
The good news is that I caught a flight only an hour later and managed to get home to my parents. The bad news is that this detour drove me to think of other things that I'm bad at navigating.
I'm going to be completely honest: first drafts scare the shit out of me. Once upon a time, I got excited at the possibility of starting a new novel, pounding out plot points and discovering characters. Now, after long months of revisions that only resulted in trunked books...it's hard not to be scared. What if I take a wrong turn? What if I wreck this story? What if I write the best book I possibly can, and it's just...not good enough?
I need to learn to be brave. I need to learn how to drive through all those detours, to follow where my characters lead, to backtrack if necessary. I need to honor my process (thanks, Phoebe) even if it takes me years to find the way to a better book.
Because I have to believe that, ultimately, the destination is worth the detour.