Saturday, October 15, 2011

If you lose your way...

 I got my notes from my editor regarding my next book, Piney Moon.  They were sent by email and were written on MS Word, but they might as well been written with one of those bright, glowy pens. They were filled with great comments and good, hard questions. As a writer, it's the kind of stuff that lights you up, points you in the right direction and makes you want to dive back into your own story. Before her notes, I was worried about this one. I felt like I was losing my way.

Last night, when my niece Andrea called to fill me in about her wedding plans, I ended up telling her about my editor's notes and about my losing-my-way fears. She reminded me about one of our "special days". When she was growing up, that's what we called the days we spent together. 

When she was 10 and I was in my early twenties, we decided to take a drive from her house in central Jersey to Seaside Heights (aka the Jersey Shore). We were so busy talking and singing and laughing that I wasn't paying attention to where I was going.  I'm not from New Jersey and they were country roads  -- and there were no street signs. Of course, we got lost. Since it was before the days of smart phones and Google maps and GPS systems, we had to stop and ask directions many times.

The directions weren't always easy to follow.  "Make a left at the yellow pick-up truck", said one gas station attendant, "but make sure it's the one that's parked underneath the crooked tree..."
I nodded, pretending I understood. Soon I noticed that the gas station attendant wasn't even looking at me. I turned around and saw Andrea holding a purple sparkle pen, writing everything he said in her Hello Kitty notepad.

Thanks to the 10-year old, we found our way to Seaside. It was an afternoon in early spring. The Snookiless boardwalk was crowded just enough to make you think you were someplace special. At the first arcade game, we won a giant basket filled with toys and candy. We moved onto a different game and won again. This time, it was a huge stuffed animal. Our wining streak lasted. Stuffed animals, gift baskets, toys-- that day, we won it all.

On the way back to the car, we stopped at a palm reader (I'm a sucker for psychics). Honestly, I don't remember anything she said to me, but when it was Andrea's turn, I held my breath. Not that I necessarily believe in the veracity of boardwalk palm readers, but still, Andrea was just a kid. What if she was a scam artist? What if she said something bad? This could get uncomfortable.

As soon as she told Andrea that she'd someday have a great job and an excellent education, I exhaled. Then she stared at my niece's palm and made that 'tsk tsk' sound. "Finding your true love will take a long time," she sighed. "Many many blind dates."

Years later, Andrea and I still marvel at our luck at the boardwalk games, and we've laughed at the "many many blind dates" comment over and over again throughout Andrea's dating years.

There probably should be some tie in here between losing your way in writing and losing your way on the road, and I wish I could say something clever about being fearless in both circumstances. But since both of them still make me nervous, I'm not sure I can draw that conclusion. However, if you do manage to get lost in either writing or driving, I have one piece of advice: Travel with someone who knows enough to bring a sparkle pen.