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Are We There Yet?

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It’s the cry of many children all across the land when they’re on a family road trip, “Are we there yet?” As a child I remember all too well asking that question over and over when I was traveling with my parent’s and sister in our blue station wagon to go visit relatives out of state. It was the same when traveling with my children when they were younger, and also my grandchildren. That chanting question, “Are we there yet?” permeated our road trips until we reached our destination.

Still, as many times as my husband and I were asked by our then young children, and later on our grandchildren, “Are we there yet?”…one fact remained the same. We got to the end point of our journey when we got there. We got there after frequent rest stop visits to the bathroom, too many stops at fast food restaurants because no one wanted to eat the sandwiches that were packed, minor squabbles between siblings, and a wrong turn every now and then. We even got there even after stopping at little known historic landmarks that only the adults were interested in seeing and taking photos with someone always sticking out their tongue or grumbling under their breath. We got there…in one piece…as a family…and in the end, as we reminisce even now about those road trips many years later, we are thankful and content for the bonding, the fun, and the lessons that happened along the scenic route. 

I was reminded of this on a recent road trip with my husband. I couldn’t wait to reach our destination. I had to quiet the voice inside of me that was itching to ask the adult version of the question, “Are we there yet?”…you know, “Isn’t this route longer than the other one we took before?” or “Is the GPS a bit off today?” instead of savoring the scenery along the way, the sereneness of the open country roads and beautiful fall foliage that looked  like a painting in a art museum. I had to take several deep breaths to remind myself to relax and enjoy the ride.

Once I did, it prompted me to think about writing and how as writers we often worry so much about our destination we don’t enjoy the process of getting there or appreciate our progress, no matter how small, as much as we should. 

“Are we there yet?” we question, concerning ourselves, sometimes obsessively, with the long winding road in front of us instead of focusing on the goals we reached that are behind us. We gloss over the meaningful stories we’ve already written and trouble ourselves with thoughts about how we will get to the next tier as a writer. We forget to immerse ourselves in the good feeling that comes from knowing we’re creative beings that work diligently to tell our stories. We forget to stand back and see the worth of all we have done and who we have impacted. We forget to enjoy the scenic route during our journey. 

Savoring the scenic route as writers doesn’t make us stagnant. We know what the future holds for us as writers during this road trip. It does mean though, that we savor our profound writing moments without constantly fretting about what’s next on the writing agenda. It means, for example, that we get excited about completing that first draft of our novel and not stressed because we’re already worried about revising the second draft. It means, that even if we didn’t place at all in a writing contest, at least we dusted off a manuscript, reworked it, and had enough courage to submit it. It means we relax and enjoy  the scenery (the creative process, finding our true voice and point of view, creating memorable protagonists our readers can identify with, researching the archives, learning the ins and outs of marketing, etc.)

It means that we can embrace the lessons and admire the work of other prolific writers without comparing our style of writing or body of work to them, thinking we haven’t quite made it. The measure of our success should be in knowing that we write about what compels us or to make sense of this world, and that we give our all to pull our readers into our stories, hoping to teach them, make them laugh, or cry, and muffle out the emotional clatter in their own life. That is no easy feat and is a part of the writing life we should celebrate more often. So relax and enjoy the ride. 

I implore you to think fondly about your scenic route on the way to your writing destination. You will get there when you get there as I used to tell my children during our road trips when they were younger. Sooner rather than later. In one piece…slow and steady… as a writer. Through your day to day tasks…when you sit down at your computer or with your laptop…you will finish that novel and get it submission ready…you will find the right literary agent to represent you…you will have that book launch…you will accomplish all of the writing goals you wrote in those notebooks years ago or on your vision board next to your desk. 

So relax. Ease up on yourself and where you think you should be in your career so you can enjoy the ride. You will get to your destination…in one piece…as a writer…content… knowing you put in the mileage and learned so many lessons along the way.

                                                                                         —Jeanine

Jeanine DeHoney has had her writing published in several anthologies, magazines and blogs. She enjoys taking road trips with her husband and has gotten good at not asking, “Are we there yet?” 

                                                                                                             

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