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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Lessons From Space Mountain



I went to Disneyland for the first time when I was nine. Splash Mountain had just opened and all my little friends were jealous that I was going to go on the coolest ride ever.

The first day in the park we had breakfast with the characters and hung out in Tomorrow Land before the rest of the rides opened. My dad loves roller coasters and told me I had to ride Space Mountain with him.

"But Dad, it's dark. And loud," I said. "I don't think I want to go."

"It will be fun," he said. "It's just like Splash Mountain."

(NOTE: We hadn't ridden Splash Mountain yet so this was blatant false advertising. Thanks, Dad.)

I got in line with him. Along the way were signs warning expectant mothers and people with heart problems to turn back.

Dead men tell no tales...

Wait. Wrong ride.

Space Mountain was dark. And scary. And waaaaaaay too fast. I screamed. I cried. I begged to get off. I thought I was going to die.

FYI- Disneyland does NOT stop Space Mountain for hysterical nine-year-old girls.

I survived, but I don't think I talked to my dad for the rest of the day. My point (yes, I have one!) is that there are times I want off the Query/Writing Roller Coaster too- it's scary and I feel like I'm in the dark. It's a little too dramatic for my taste.

So help a girl out here, talk me back from the edge. Do you ever want off this ride too? Do breaks help? What else do you do to keep yourself sane?

21 comments:

Amalia T. said...

I don't want off, but I do want some kind of GIVE, or some sign of forward momentum, some proof that I'm not just throwing messages into bottles in the ocean. I'm actually having some fits of my own in this regard, lately. I just want to know I'm doing it right, you know? But there's only one way to find out, and that's to keep doing it.

If not this book, than the next, I tell myself. If not Thairon, or Thor, then maybe Theseus. If not Helen, then maybe Paris. If not Greeks, then maybe Vikings. Anyway, at least it's all good practice.

Stephanie Thornton said...

Amalia- We need to bottle and sell your attitude. The Greeks and Vikings are both awesome!

Roland D. Yeomans said...

I want it to end just like that little 9 year old girl of your memories.

It is dark, and worse than Space Mountain -- there is no certainty that it will end.

The only certainty is you and I will fail if we quit. What would Hatshepsut do in your place? What would Samuel McCord do in mine?

But we are not our fictional heroes.

Or are we? There is a hero inside you, or you could not write so convincingly of one.

You have talent. You have determination -- it won you a teaching degree -- it has written many chapters in the dark of night.

Each of us lives our own version of "The Twilight of the Gods." Our end is sure. The only thing in doubt is whether we will stand our ground against the oncoming darkness, flinging the light of our tales in our wake.

You can write one more query. Just one more. It only takes one to the right agent. I am in your corner, rooting you on. Roland

Stephanie Thornton said...

Roland- You give the best pep talks. We will indeed fail if we quit- that's what I keep telling myself. Thank you for being in my corner- I need all the cheering I can get! :)

Jade said...

Oh, Stephanie! I feel you.

Some days, everything feels so hopeless and I think that THIS IS NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN TO ME! WAA WAA!
Then I go and read a post by someone who has just scored an agent. I stare at the screen and think, "I want to write that post. I WILL WRITE THAT POST!!!"

Then I open up a Word doc and start writing. I am certain that one day someone is going to want something I've written. I tell myself it will happen even on the days it feels like it NEVER WILL!

I have to believe in myself, because if I don't, no one else will.

Dominique said...

My father, at Disneyland, once told me I could stop the ride if it got too scary. I don't know why I believed that, but I did. There was much scowling after the fact. (That ride was Splash Mountain.)

I felt that way about querying. There's a lot of nervous energy tied up in that. I think the only way to stay sane is to keep off the internet (especially email) as much as possible and take lots of soothing breathes.

Mason Canyon said...

So glad to find someone else who didn't enjoy the Space Mountain ride. With that said, I'd still encourage you to continue your Query/Writing roller coaster ride. It's scary too but you have a lot of people around to keep you balanced and talk you through the scary parts.

Mason
Thoughts in Progress

Jemi Fraser said...

Step away from the edge. Slowly. Carefully.

You have a great story to tell and strong skills. It just takes time to find the right fit. It'll happen.

I wonder if your dad felt bad or if he thought it was hysterical??? :)

VR Barkowski said...

When I rode Space Mountain the first time, my glasses nearly flew off. Fortunately, I caught them mid-air and held them tight waiting for the ride to end. I was terrified. Without my glasses, I'm blind.

Querying is similar. I work in the dark, hang on tight, wait for the ride to end. I get requests, but no viable feedback. Agents tell me they love my writing. Fab, but I don't need to hear what's right, I need to hear what's wrong. Is it my characters, my story? I'm on the query ride until it ends, but it's so dark, what's ahead is anyone's guess.

Mark Noce said...

Funny story:) My folks put my on Space MT when I was 3 or 4 and I didn't like it then either.
P.S. I'm working on my haiku and I spread the word to a few more people too: http://nocestories.blogspot.com/ :)

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Oh. I love Space Mountain. I just don't like the roller coasters that go upside down. Since I'm not querying yet, I can't say if I'd want to get off, but I do know my doubts hit even as I write. Some days I wonder why I thought I could do this.
But one thing I do know, you can write and you've done mega-work to get authenticity in your novel. So hang on tight. You can ride this monster. Get Fierce.

Slushpile Slut said...

Step away from the edge Stephanie!!! Seriously though this made me LOL! I, myself stay sane with great writer friends, beer, chocolate cake and when the ride gets to be too wild and makes me feel like I'm going to throw up, I just find a new ride... more like a Merry-Go-Round type pace until I build up my equilibrium and can face the dark roller coaster again. Because the more I keep riding the better it gets...Hang in there!! :)

aspiring_x said...

YOU ARE A GREAT WRITER!!!

need proof?
read this post!!

don't you forget it, and back away now!

Vincenzo said...

Did you ever look up while you're on that ride? It's a canopy of stars, the expanse of space, the infinite universe reminding you that anything is possible. I love that ride. I always get in line to ride it again.

Amanda Sablan said...

I've ridden Space Mountain once, and that was when I was 15. Man, did I love it! <3

It's easier for me to stay sane now that I'm a blogger and I've got all this wonderful support.

Vicki Rocho said...

I'm still in line. See me waaaaaaaaaaaaay in the back over there? Yup. I'll let you know what I think about the ride after I'm buckled in...

Terresa said...

My daughter rode Space Mnt at age six. She said she wanted to, although afterwards, I think she was quite mad with me.

The ride of life, of writing, is another trip. Breaks help, humor, and a good writing crit group. (I need to work on the humor part...)

Kittie Howard said...

Stephanie, I had a similar experience at the fairgrounds in New Orleans when I was about your age. Along the way to now, you're the first person I've met (you know what I mean) who compares much to a roller coaster ride. I keep telling myself it's a hard slug up the hill, that I'll love feeling the wind on my face coming down, when, all along there's a fear I won't be strong enough to make it to the top.

But I strongly encourage you to continue writing. In the year I've had my blob so many have gotten agents or had works published. However, I think the larger problem is that there is so little defined about an agent. I had an agent once who signed up for one thing but tried to get me to hand over something else I was working on...so I've been very cautious since, taking baby steps, for writing is, in the end, a very personal product in a very commercial world. When my mojo slips, I turn off the computer and bury my head in nature or household projects until the little girl inside begs to be heard. Do what works for you, but don't ever give up!!!

Summer Ross said...

Hey there, I have an award for you at my blog. :)

Libbie H. said...

They don't stop Space Mountain for hysterical nine-year-old girls, but they do stop it for pregnant women who get on the ride despite all the warnings and then freak out and then stick their arms up way high and hit the track above them to stop the ride because they are about to pass out.

True story. I know, because I was on Space Mountain during Disney's Marching Band Days when this happened. It took a LONG TIME for the ride to re-start after they rescued that dummy, and it wasn't as fun after you saw the track with the lights on. My goodness, that's a small roller coaster and it doesn't go very fast. It's all a light-and-fans spectacular.

Anyway...yeah, being in the dark isn't fun. I've got two books out with publishers via my agent and we haven't heard a peep for some time. It's getting a little irksome. I am thinking of getting hysterical and crying and freaking out, but it won't do any good.

Dayana Stockdale said...

I don't even want to get on the ride! I just keep telling myself that I'm destined to make it! Thats what helps me, that silly, pointless but comforting concept called destiny.