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Praying for Pavement 

photo by Gretchen. E.K. Engel Redington Pass Road near Redington Pass

We recently took this road. The trip was harrowing to say the least and a “never again” experience. The kids were antsy and a bit bored. My husband white knuckled it. I admit I thought it was fun but also kind of long. It was a 2-hour journey when 45 minutes would have been ideal.

It’s a metaphor for where I am on my writing journey.

1. It’s an actual road

Cars can make it as long as they’re equipped for it. Some cars are better equipped (Jeep Rubicon) than our Subaru SUV. Others (Lexus driver I’m talking to you) really don’t have any business on this road but but bravo for trying.  You were in for a ride, and I think you might have made it.

Writing is like that. You have to be ready to embark on that adventure. The better prepared you are, the better the trip.

2. Some parts are scary and require choices

Multiple times my husband had to ask me, “right or left?” then we crossed at about 5 MPH. Barreling down the middle would have meant a lot of damage and being stranded in the desert.

Writing is like that. We have to make decisions (hard ones) and hope for the best. And sometimes the path looks impossible.

3. Others who’ve made the journey are a Godsend

We were never so glad to see vehicles from the other direction. It comforted us that we could make it. We’ve got this! We also learned their definition of “no problem” was a bit looser than ours.

Writing is like that. With writing I’m 1.5 hours into a 2-hour trip. That is too far to turn back but far enough from the end I can only pray that it will come. It’s bumpy, discouraging, and I’ve hit yet another wash that doesn’t even look passable. Read “mailbox full of rejection letters” and a manuscript that makes me think, “I hate my writing” and “why am I doing this?” Then they come. Those people who share their rejection-filled stories to publication or offers words of encouragement.

4. Praying for pavement

photo by Gretchen E.K. Engel Redington Pass Road near Tucson

It’s there. You can see it–the paved road. Success, easy street, the road to your destination. But is it what you hoped or did you miss the journey? The road we took. It begins in the remote town of San Miguel. It meanders through beautiful scenery few experience, the unpaved road ends in a park where a few more venture but the paved part of the road continues into the city of Tucson. After we hit asphalt, it took us about 30 more minutes to our destination.

Writing is like that. We begin in obscurity and remoteness, but it’s beautiful if we pause to enjoy it. We encounter a few intrepid souls who came before us, often just when we need them most.

We meet the public where the pavement ends. They see enough of the road to admire the author and decide it’s not for them. Finally we arrive on the paved path of publication.

Pavement might be smoother, but it’s not any safer, not as pretty as we expected, and stressful in its own way. When we hit asphalt we still haven’t arrived.

About Gretchen E K Engel

Chemical engineer by day, spec fiction writer by night

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