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Conversations while Flying

This past weekend I was lucky enough to go visit my family in Boston. Thursday and Friday were Fall Break, so I caught a 6:20am flight (that’s an interesting story in of itself that I’ll tell later) and spent the weekend with my family after I had a doctor’s appointment, which I already described. After a few days, I headed back to Nashville.

In true Kate-travels fashion, I had two flights, and I had a great conversation on my first flight that I wanted to share.

I didn’t get his name (stupid move – it would have interesting to keep a look out later), but he was your average middle-aged man, who just happened to be a beginning author. During 90% of our travels we didn’t speak: I was in the midst of finishing reading for school (which headphones in, of course), and he was scribbling constantly and occasionally furiously in a spiral notebook.

I sat in the middle seat and he had the aisle, so it was impossible not to see his activity out of the corner of my eye. I spent my time working but also wondering what he was doing and, once I could tell he was writing a book, what I would say. Finally, after had to turn off my iPod anyway and my reading was done, I initiated a conversation. I, trying not to be incredibly awkward, said that smartest comment ever. “So, I don’t mean to be nosy, but are you writing a book?”

Of course, his answer was an affirmative. The conversation went from there. We both were working on our second novels, and he hadn’t gotten his first published yet. I explained my self-publishing process thus far, and my plan to eventually get a literary agent. We both agreed that our first novels didn’t quite feel like our own. He felt that he was telling the lives of the characters he created, but it wasn’t necessarily his own plotline. In my case, as you probably know, Aureole is a retelling of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park. The story is mine and it became mine as it grew and differed from Mansfield Park, but Aureole is still rooted in Austen.

I’m sharing this experience with you for two reasons. One, I love meeting fellow authors, especially the more indie ones like myself. Two, I want to remind you that if you’re writing and you’re struggling to get the Big Names to notice you and you feel alone, remember that you’re not. And your fellow authors aren’t just screen names and emails on the computer. We’re middle aged businessmen and college students in our twenties. We’re the peers on sitting next to you on a random flight from Boston to Baltimore.

You’re not the only one writing and trying to make it. So keep your chin up. You can do it!


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