Scratch that. Canada's VIA workers were threatening to strike... starting on the day we were to travel.
Now, I'm a planner. I like a schedule on a spreadsheet AND in my calendar, a day-by-day itinerary (preferably in 30 minute increments), and a folder that contains printouts of all necessary documentation.
So I was not happy at this change in travel plans.
NOTE: I must say, though, that I received a very clear, polite email from VIA with easy instructions about how to refund my usually non-refundable ticket. The refund was simple, easy and prompt... and came with another polite note. Followed the next day about how the strike had been averted and VIA operators were standing by... Canadians might know how to out-polite Midwesterners, and that's saying something.
Given the last minute nature of the above, we decided we'd drive.
A sense of Deja Vu...
And I had to chuckle to myself, because here I was again, traveling to pursue the dream of My One Square Inch of Alaska--this time the screenplay version, and, again, the world really didn't care about my spreadsheets, itineraries or folders. To get to my destination, I'd have to adjust my travel plans.
I remembered this also happening as I pursued the dream of My One Square Inch of Alaska--the novel version. That time, I'd won a Montgomery County Arts Council and Ohio Arts Council grants, and decided to attend a Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators conference in New York City. I thought, then, of the novel as purely Young Adult. Though appropriate for Young Adult, it ultimately was published as literary coming-of-age book club fiction.
It just happened that that conference was at the end of January. And a blizzard hit. And New York City was under several feet of snow. My flight was cancelled. Heck, all flights to the city were cancelled. Somehow, miraculously, I convince United Air to return my airfare.
But I couldn't get the money back from the hotel or the conference, and heck, I'd spent money that my COMMUNITY had given me, and my Midwestern sensibility couldn't let that all go to waste, so... I figured I was packed anyway, tossed my suitcases in the trunk of my little car, and took off.
I still remember my husband's face as he waved from the garage. He looked a bit shocked. I've since learned he texted our daughters about the situation, but tried to assure them that of course I'd turn around after an hour or so. They each texted back something along the lines of "Hello? Have you met our mother?"
Anyway, I drove for ten hours to New York, which wasn't so bad until I entered the city, at which point:
I remembered that, oh, yeah, I have zip, zero, nada sense of direction.
- My GPS went out--tall buildings.
- I noticed that the streets were narrowed by built up plowed snow, but traffic was still crazy.
- I further noticed that it was dark and that while I had an address and general directions, I didn't have a map.
All this came to me as I sat at an intersection, my wee little turn signal clicking away, cars around me honking. A fellow on a bike rolled up, stopped in front of me, pointed to my Ohio plates, looked at me through my windshield, and shook his head in disgust.
That's when I thought:
- New York City is on an island.
- New York City is on a grid.
- There is a taxi in front of me, and if I follow it, surely sooner or later it might go by my hotel...
OK, the last thought was only semi-logical (my hotel was on a major street, though), but I was stressed, and it was nearly 11:00 at night, and so... well, that's what I did. I tailgated that taxi right through Times Square, past cops, through traffic... all the while chanting Oh My God, Oh My God, Oh My God. Soon enough though, there was my hotel.
Want to Achieve a Goal? Make a Plan. Then Be Willing to Change It.
The next morning, I went to the conference and on a 'speed dating with editors' event, and the first editor told me--based on one page of the novel--this will never get published. No one cares about stories set in the fifties. And your heroine is too wimpy. A wave of the hand, a roll of the eyes. Next.
To say I felt devastated is putting it lightly. The next editors were kinder and more helpful. I had lunch with my former editor of the Josie mystery novels, and she was helpful too. But that first editor's comments really stuck with me.
Later, I was calm enough to remind myself of guiding light I've tried to follow: toss out bad advice (e.g., no one reads anything set in the 1950s) and pick out, even from advice delivered poorly and meanly, whatever is useful, which in this case was that my heroine, Donna, needed more agency and desire for herself. (Well, that's how I chose to interpret 'wimpy.') That's when I made Donna's desire to be a much bigger part of the novel.
Fast forward to now, as I'm driving along the highway in Ontario. No snow storms--just a simple drive with my husband instead--but I had to think. Well. Here I am. On the way to a film festival. Where I will be 'speed dating' with producers with the screenplay adaptation of this novel.
When I was pursuing the novel, my travel plans to New York had to change... and once I arrived at my destination, I learned that my vision for the novel had to change, too.
I had to wonder if the universe was, in some way, telling me the same thing... again.
As it turns out... maybe. For the screenplay adaptation to become a produced film, I think I may need to make some changes. But, reader fans of the novel, don't panic. As a producer wisely told me: "Agree to changes that will get your movie made. Film making is collaboration and compromise. But never, ever agree to changes that change the heart of what you're saying with your story."
Of course, this trip isn't all work and no play. We've enjoyed visiting Greektown. We took the subway from near our Airbnb, got off at Chester Street, and walked a few feet up to Danforth. So many fun shops and restaurants. We had an al fresco lunch at Ouzeri's. Note the street sign in English and Greek.