Sometimes as I struggle to wrap my mind around the whole process of being a novelist, I embark on learning something new and interesting and vital (that I’ll certainly master because I’m so frelling awesome) and find myself totally – lost.
There’s two types of “lost” in the writing world. I know, one kind of lost would be bad enough but there’s actually two! Meep. There’s the kind of lost where you’re lost in something. Lost in research, lost in thought and the best kind of lost ever: lost in a good book.
That first kind of lost is usually a happy experience. Hours after you sat down intent on doing so and so, you come to, a sense of satisfaction permeates your whole body and you feel very accomplished – even though you probably only got a third of the work you actually set out to do done. You learned a lot. Researched thoroughly and satisfied all your deep seated desires. Ah, bliss!
The kind of lost that makes you a prime target for strangers with candy and nasty things on their mind.
Then there’s the other kind of lost. This kind of lost is an outside kind of lost, almost as bleak as being a small child in a crowd of jostling, hostile strangers with no idea where you Mom has gotten off to. Bleak lost. Hopeless lost. The kind of lost that makes you a prime target for strangers with candy and nasty things on their mind.
This second kind of lost feeling will usually set in right after you’ve been ‘lost in’ something. Awake and aware and suddenly realizing you’ve strayed so far off the path that there’s no easy way to get back to what you were doing before. Now you’ll have to figure out how to make a whole new path just to get back to where you should have been all along. It’s a sad place, full of days spent starring at style manuals and all kinds of books on grammar and craft hoping to find your way back to the novel you were supposed to be writing before you got so hopelessly off track.
In the throws of this kind of lost, you’re vulnerable to all kinds of bad things. Mostly unscrupulous people praying on your confusion promising to show you an easy way out of your particular predicament, for a nominal fee, of course. You’ll spend hundreds of dollars, that you probably don’t have to spare, in the hopes that some of these will lead you out of the darkness – when you should be working to find your own way out.
In the end, everyone has to forge their own path and the only advice that’s worth paying for is the kind that will help you do so – not the kind that swears it can conjure a magic path at your feet for a low low one time fee.