Pairs of red lights blare in the afternoon sun. Though it’s at least 90 degrees out there, my body feels cool inside my Subaru Forester. The air conditioning does its best to tame the heat. A glance at the dial reveals the car’s shrug to my inquiry; Yes, the fan is full blast, and so is the AC—what else do you want from me? Red lights jerk my attention back to the road, probably where it should be anyway.
It occurred to me that the writing world mirrors the highway in more ways than I had imagined. For this example, simply picture your highway drives and I’m sure you’ll begin to follow along.
To have a highway you need a path from point A to point B—with several stops in between. To simplify the highway as a one-way path is to disregard all other possibilities. The highway serves a purpose to the drivers who traverse it. In my case, the highway would not only bring me to my destination, but the return path would bring me back home again. Not all journeys follow suit. Sometimes I stop short of previous destinations, while other times I choose a different route. Another highway.
So how does this relate at all to writing? Consider the travelers on the road. They must all operate a vehicle of some kind, a mode of transporting themselves to their destination, wherever that might be. This vehicle is in some way representative of their status. Families require a larger vehicle with more seating capabilities; commercial transport vehicles address the shipping needs and costs of their respective companies by selecting semis; my Forester is All Wheel Drive.
Okay, admittedly the Forester I own serves more purposes to me. The fact remains that cars show status. That glitzy sports car, worth three times my annual salary, passing me in the left lane exemplifies a higher financial status. At the same time, that large rear-end and the sloped, witch-nose bonnet aren’t exactly my style. My approach requires more speed, a subtler presence, and a more reliable vehicle.
Authors maintain an image as well. The way in which writers present themselves to the public—be it social media, a website, or any other method of promotion—exemplifies their style, their character, and what their values are. Experienced writers are like those in the Mercedes Benz SUVs, the Porsche 911 Turbos, and the BMW M5s. Their author platform has evolved to a point where expertise sets them apart. Much like the marques they own, there is now a legacy and many years’ worth of knowledge that characterizes their presence.
Writers like me, who own “sensible” cars, haven’t quite made it that far—yet. We’re the ones who spend part of our income on improving our rides, on bettering ourselves. We have to keep an eye on the gas gauge and the bank account, stay within the rules of the road, and wait for our chance to move up to that senior position.
But when we get that chance, you better believe we dart over to the left lane and peg that pedal!
Highway lanes lanes are an expression of status as well. They might be considered in terms of the pressures writers face daily. Known as the “hammer lane,” the left lane usually holds drivers that push the limits of lawful speed on the way to their destination. They presumably have the know-how to negotiate the roadblocks this lane offers. Sure of their exit, they are able to navigate across tides of traffic to come to their destination, faster than the rest.
A foreign-made sedan darts across my lane to speed by the stand-still traffic. Braking, I reach the mass of cars slowing down. I flick my gaze towards the rear-view mirror but other cars have seen the delay and are taking suitable measures. As I come closer to those in front of me, I make out the shapes of grass piles littering the middle and right-most lanes. None are bigger than the average Golden Retriever, but to the unsuspecting motorist, they could spell disaster.
Quickly identifying the left lane as my best option, I jog over. No sod piles block the path here. My Forester enjoys the downward travel of my right foot as we accelerate to the limit once more. The speedometer reads 75 miles per hour for a few more minutes before we must slow down once again. This time, it’s a traffic jam.
Because sometimes in life, you’ve got to submit to the grind. There’s no avoiding it.
Above, a far-off plane glides through the jet stream.
Someday, I whisper to myself. Someday.
Rebecca Henderson holds a Master’s in German and a Bachelor’s in Creative Writing. Best expressing herself through the written word, she enjoys the smell of burning rubber and can recite the ABC’s of the automotive world upon command. Rebecca hopes to shift your world perspective through her words, because looking out the same window every day hardly makes for an interesting life.