Detours

With one foot on the gas pedal, the radio blasting an old school R & B song, and the sun beaming down from a clear sky, I sat in my air conditioned car. I was totally, perfectly content and sure of my destination; I knew the route, how long it’ll take to get there, and, thankfully, traffic was light. The exit was coming up, so I eased my foot onto the brake to slow down a little, glanced to my right to be sure the way was clear before breezing over to the next lane.

                The wide green sign denoting my exit in white script appeared by the road attached to a thick, silver pole, but suddenly, a frown formed on my face. An orange rectangle with the words ‘Follow Detour’ in its center stuck to the bottom of the green sign. Sure enough, when the exit came into view, it was blocked by orange and white cones and thin construction tape. I passed the exit with a new sense of worry and confusion, wondering which way I could go to reach my destination until I saw the corresponding detour signs—a clearly marked path to utilize over the one I planned to. Still concerned, I followed the signs, trusting that it’ll lead me closer to where I need to go.

                Just as we encounter detours on the road to our many destinations, so we deal with them in real life. Publishing my first book was simply a dream I hadn’t considered since I left high school. It didn’t come back to mind until the end of 2018. As a passionate writer, I couldn’t just stop writing—I tried—but something inside always pushed me to either grab a pen and paper or let my hands fly over the keyboard of a laptop. I had developed what some termed writer’s block when it came to articulating books. Ideas came, plots were jotted down, and the stories started, but I just couldn’t get myself to finish them. The motivation and determination just wasn’t there. So much so, that time flew by and the stories were left unfinished. Ultimately, I gave up on that dream. How could I possibly publish something if I couldn’t finish writing it?

                So, I dove headfirst into my schoolwork and trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life. I’d given up on a dream and wasn’t sure what else I should do. I dealt with studying and trying to fit in at a school away from home. Two years later and I was still unhappy, confused, and ridiculously homesick. By the end of my second year, I had changed my major and got accepted to a school closer to home. At the new school, I graduated, but before I did, I started writing a novel detailing a lot of the things I encountered during the last five years: switching schools, changing majors, meeting new people, losing friends, loneliness, hopelessness, insecurity, shame, heartbreak, disappointment. Things that many other college students have likely dealt with, too, during their journey.

                Even after completing the book, I didn’t consider publishing it. Honestly, I thought it would just remain another work unseen by others’ eyes because that’s typically what happened—my work never got pass my eyes. But the excitement and good feeling I had about this novel were too great to ignore, so I let someone else read it. Then that person asked me what I planned to do to get it published…That notion hadn’t crossed my mind, but I started researching anyway. I could go on and on about the process, but I’ll only highlight a couple detours. One, a person I’d worked up the nerve to talk to after two or three weeks unexpectedly stopped responding to my messages for help even though he assured me he would give me the information I needed to get my book published. Two, I had to revise the manuscript due to grammar and formatting errors about four times, which delayed the process for almost a month. This on top of other delays gave me pause, and a few times throughout the process, I questioned whether I should actually publish the book.

Eventually, I did, making it my first published full-length novel. I thank God for the experience, and I look forward to doing it again for book 2.

                Now, I realize that all those detours were necessary for me to learn more about the process, to appreciate the end product more, to understand what to do the next time around. Sometimes we can get tunnel vision and focus so much on the detour or the issue that’s come about that we don’t see the circumstance happened for a reason—to enlighten, strengthen, or protect the individual. To this day, I may not completely understand why I did exactly what I didn’t want to do during my college career (i.e., change major and schools), but I know that if I hadn’t, this book would not have been made. In the end, I learned to just trust God’s understanding and not my own and believe that everything happens for a reason.   

“Dream, struggle, create, prevail. Be daring. Be brave. Be loving. Be compassionate. Be strong. Be brilliant. Be beautiful.”

–Caterina Fake

(P.S. Here’s a song that I like that I listened to while writing this post.)

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