I spent this past weekend at the New England RWA convention, hanging out with old friends, meeting some fabulous new people, and sitting in on some wicked awesome (as us transplanted Bostonians say) workshops. (For the record, Liz Maverick is a seriously smart and articulate lady.) As an added bonus, Arizona drove up to Mass with me and went mountain biking at the nearby Landlocked Forest, first with me, then on his lonesome.
When we were out on the trails, we crossed paths with a gearhead “here, feel how light my bike is” guy who totally spoke Arizona’s language, and who recommended two other trail systems in the area for him to check out. But when it came down to it, he decided to stick with the trails we had already scouted, as they were just a few miles away from the conference hotel. His rationale? “The drivers around here are nuts.”
Now, I’ll admit there’s been a time or two when he’s cleared his throat at my automotive choices and “that was totally yellow” moments, but it wasn’t until this past weekend, driving back up in my old stomping grounds, that it hit home how truly, wonderfully insane it is driving in eastern Mass, where you’ll get rear-ended if you actually come to a complete stop at a stop sign. And it also occurred to me that being a romance writer is a lot like being a Boston driver. To whit:
There’s a time and a place for rolling stops. Sometimes you want to slow things down a touch, but that doesn’t mean you kill your forward momentum entirely. Whether it’s a rotary, a demon battle, a love scene, or an emotional moment, inertia can be your friend!
Make every mistake going forward. Okay, so this is actually a horse quote, from the legendary show jumper and trainer, George Morris, but I think that it applies equally well here. We all know that person—you know, the one who can never figure out why he/she gets into so many fender benders, yet their first response is to hit the brakes, slow way down, and assess the situation. By which point the car behind them has already become one with their trunk. Similarly, in writing, it’s a great idea to push through—even pick up the pace—when the going gets tough. I figure that if I’m bored with a scene, there’s a good chance my readers will be, too—so I move on to something more exciting!
Dents happen. As do rejections, bad reviews, and the occasional .gif-laden snarkfest. None of which are fun, and all of which put nicks and dings in the armor we’ve had to build up in order to put ourselves (and our work) out there as writers. But they’re survivable. What’s more, some of them have lessons to teach us, like how it’s important to focus on the developing romance rather than over-complicating the plot, and there’s no such thing as left on red. So hammer out that dent (or leave it as a symbol of a larger crisis averted), and drive on!
Now, mind you, I’m not suggesting we should all drive like Bostonians. One of the reasons I love Connecticut is the way we move over a lane to give the other driver room to merge onto the highway—as opposed to Mass, where I’m pretty sure you’re legally obligated to aim for the guy in the on-ramp, bonus points if you get him to swerve into the ditch. But I do think there’s a time and a place for us writers to channel our inner Boston driver.
So what’s your worst driving habit, and what does it say about you as a writer or a reader??