Sometimes the road not taken was a life lesson, because the road you wound up on was a vast improvement.
Take for example the flight back home DD and I were supposed to be on- last flight out of Cleveland, fully booked to the last seat. A gate full of tired passengers waited when delay after delay turned into a flight cancelation, with the announcement that the airline had only enough hotel vouchers for half the passengers and will book us on the next available flight the next day, or whenever.
As we rushed to the customer service line, I told DD to prepare to spend the night on an airport bench. Instead, we were given vouchers for a nonstop flight not too early the next morning, vouchers for meals, and vouchers for a hotel nearby, all at the airline’s expense. Mind you, ours were the most economy-fare tickets, so we had no reason to count on first class treatment, which even first-class fare-payers can’t anymore. The hotel shuttle took the scenic route because the stand-up comedian driver said he wanted to do something special for his carload of ‘distressed passengers.’ I thought I had landed in the middle of this Thomas Kinkade Painting.
And then we found ourselves in the luxury suite, with a whirlpool bath in our room.
This made me think of another circuitous route that ended well- an offer from a publisher I had turned down a couple of years ago. The enthusiastic offer to publish my middle grade novel came with a condition for certain changes. This was just before I had an acceptance for my first picture book, and I was over the moon. After all, they only wanted me to cut one character, change the behavior of another, and change some minor details. None of the suggested changed seemed right to me, but, hey, I’m a novice and they are, well, experienced publishers who know what they are doing. Everyone says that you should ‘sit’ on such suggestions and maybe even sleep on it. Right?
But they wanted to change the ending too. That last one, no matter how much I tried to talk myself into, was a deal breaker. Oh, I did sleep on it. I also ran it by my beta reader who’s been with the story almost from the beginning, and he said, even more vehemently, they were wrong-Wrong-WRONG.
This same novel for middle grades found acceptance at the able hands of another publishing team, where the many editing rounds (three major, two minor) never stirred the story the wrong way. THE VOICE OF THUNDER is less than a month from its official release, and I could not be happier about the road I didn’t take and the one I did.
This brings me back to our relaxing extra night in Cleveland, and the following day’s flight. This time the plane was not full; we had empty seats between us. We arrived home in the middle of a beautiful sunny day, not in the dead of night.
One case where I had a choice and one where I didn’t. But both felt like emerging from darkness to light.
The road taken, once again, was the best road.