I hate to fly.
Maybe being a bird would be okay. Spreading my wings and gliding over the river at sunrise, diving under a bridge, landing on the protected limb of an apple tree in blossom--these things might work. Might. And birds eat a lot, unlike the old adage, "You eat like a bird," meaning not very much. I like to eat.
But flying in an airplane, not okay. There's the whole trust-the-pilot thing, not to mention storms, malfunctions, and terrorism. More than that is the awful, disturbing feeling of motion sickness. Will I have to grab the puke bag and embarass myself? Worse yet are the times I've actually passed out cold. Once, I spent the entire trip over the Atlantic on the floor of the galley with people stepping over me to use the bathroom.
One might wonder, then, why I've flown all over the world. The Amazon, the Middle East, Europe, Africa, Southeast Asia, to name a few destinations. Not all the flights were disasters, but enough were to sour me on the whole experience of air travel.
But seriously, there's no other way to get to the places I want to visit. Thus, fly I do. In fact, this June I will once again be in a plane for over twenty-four hours, from Pittsburgh to Detroit, to Amsterdam, to Nairobi. I will do three things while aloft: sleep, eat, and use the facilities. I am an infant in the air.
But what if I don't fly? What experiences will I miss? Who will I never meet? Which places won't be photographed? Foods not eaten? Stars not counted? Rivers not rowed? Life not lived?
The same principals are the bedrock of why I write. It can be glorious. It can be terrifying.
At the beginning, writing as a hobby rocked. I had time to spend wandering about in my head. People thought it sounded cool which, by extension, made me cool. Stories took shape that surprised me with their depth and beauty. I soared. In my loft. Alone.
But publishing is not writing. It's getting into an airplane and taking off. It means sharing your personal insights with acquaintances who may not get it. Then trusting total strangers to judge your work and decide to represent it--or not. The rejections are the plane with the wings severed and the fusilage dive-bombing into murky swamp.
And even with an agent, there are the ever stranger strangers at publishing houses who sit around in groups and love or hate what's been written. Sometimes even the love wanes in the face of market surveys. Who are these nameless, faceless readers who love--but don't adore--my book? Plane crash, anyone?
So why write, search for representation, seek a publishing house? Because NOT to fly is unthinkable. I can only visit other worlds by creating them. And once given life, my words are to be shared with the public--my public. To cower in my loft, afraid of rejection, waiting to faint or puke or lose my mind, is not an option. I most fear not even trying.
In the trying I've met amazing people, visited uncharted territory, learned surprising things. Did you know, for example, that the tongue has a print as unique as a fingerprint? That the moon in late winter is called a Death Moon? Or that a peanut butter cup and jelly on white bread make a dynamite sandwich?
Each and every time I send off a query, wait for a reply, field a rejection, I deal with the am-I-gonna-puke-or-pass-out phenomena. I wonder what I'm doing, why I'm doing it, when I'll stop doing it. But oh, that feeling of soaring, rising into the sunlit sky, landing in a place I've never been. That's worth it. If I didn't get on that plane, the real one or the writing express, a part of me would die.
I hate to fly. But I'll never willingly be earthbound.