By Ruth Granger-Wellens
I just arrived home from a journey of a lifetime – driving to Alaska from Wisconsin! Well, my husband drove. In fact, he planned the whole trip – each route, each hotel reservation, each small tour we took to see glaciers and wildlife and – I rode along. He read, studied, and talked to people who had done a similar trip. In the months and weeks leading up to our departure date, I tried very hard to read about where we were going. But I just couldn’t get a picture in my head. When we started out, and as I rode along – waiting, wondering, anticipating – I realized that this trip was a lot like the journey of writing.
First there is the idea – like going to Alaska. As we traveled the roads, I didn’t know what was around any corner or beyond the hill or in the next town. I trusted that my husband was going in the right direction. I did some reading about the area we were in or going to while in the car, and, of course, I did a lot of observing and thinking. I was never disappointed.
When we write, we first come up with the idea. This is true whether writing a short story, nonfiction, a blog or a book. Then we begin the journey of writing. We have a direction to go in, hopefully with a sense of what the outcome will be, but we don’t know with absolute certainty how we will get there. What will the characters do? Where will the plot go? What words will make the most sense so the meaning is as clear as it can be? Our writing will take turns and detours, go up and down roads, see exquisite pictures, hit road blocks, and be rewritten many times before it arrives at its conclusion.
Alaska was amazing; with hard work and good editing, our writing can also be amazing.