I didn’t pay the car much attention until it served off the road. The sun was out and no other cars were to be seen on that mile long stretch. In the 4th grade, I knew next to nothing about cars but this one was red, low to the ground, and filled with high school boys. At least, I later assumed they were high school boys.
Our road had no sidewalks. Houses sat an acre back on one side. A ditch and a cow pasture were on the other. The road had no shoulders, but it was easy enough to step into the grass when cars came by–not that many cars ever came by.
My step-sister wasn’t with me, which means it must have been one of those months that my step-mother had take off and so I had to walk home from the bus stop alone. It was a 15 minute walk.
The car swerved and I had to leap out of the way. Books spilled from my bag and I sprawled on the grass. I didn’t look back at them because I didn’t want to see if they were laughing. Not that I could’ve seen them through the tinted windows. The grass was torn from a tire and I waited a moment in the grass, listening for the sound of the car turning around. It didn’t. It was gone and I picked up my things and went home.
I told myself it must’ve been an accident.
Writing a novel is not an accident. We sit down and have a plan. Some of us have more detailed plans than others, but we still know we are going to write. Some of us may want to hit a few people with our novel. Whack them this way and that to get back at them for wrongs and hurts. Maybe just give them a good scare–see what I can do?
I find revenge writing gets in the way of the story. But that’s me. More often I feel like I’m the driver and the character on the side of the road. In each story I have to decide if I’m going to get out of the way, stand there wide-eyed, or stare the oncoming driver down. I have to decide if I’m swerving, going back to try again, or driving on by like a nicer soul.
Now that I think more about it, I wonder about the other characters in the car. Who is convincing the driver to do what? Whose idea is it to swerve? Who laughs and who cringes? After all, you might be sitting alone at your desk, but there are a lot of voices in your head. Which voice do you listen to?