The story begins with excitement and promise. We stand on a high mountain peak, about to embark on a grand adventure. It will be a long journey, but there is the goal, shining straight ahead on the far side of the valley. All we have to do is get through that forest and we'll be there!
And then come the delays. The disappointments. The dangers. The devastation. The whole world changes overnight. That goal, so clear from the ridge behind us, can't be seen from here in the trees. We are lost in the woods and we know we may never escape.
Yeah, I do this to my characters every time I write a story. That doesn't mean I like it when it happens to me.
My writing career began with a lot of excitement. I sold a short story, I had a great time at my first writer's workshop, I met lots of wonderful aspiring authors and watched as a few of them broke into publishing. Surely soon it would happen to me too.
I'm still out here in the woods.
The message of every story I write, of almost every story I read, is that around some bend in the path, or through some swamp, or maybe on the other side of some trackless thicket, lies the road to where you want to be. But you'll never find it if you give up. And sometimes when you burst out of the woods, there in front of you isn't what you thought you wanted, but something even better.
My own life has told me that story over and over.
I want to hear it one more time.