Okay, maybe there is a story here

So there’s this New-York-to-Wyoming cross-country camping trip I went on, as a Girl Scout when I was thirteen, which every time I begin to describe it, friends (including and especially lnhammer) stop me and say, “so when are you going to write a novel based on this trip?” And I dismiss them, and tell them I haven’t found a way to turn it into a story yet, and besides, I’m not sure there’s really enough there to make a book.

But this week, in filling out my author questionnaire for Bones, I found myself, in answer to one of the questions, describing this trip:

… It was my first time away from the east coast, and while the trip itself was something of a comedy of errors–sodden sleeping bags, tents blown over in windstorms, leaders who didn’t get along with each other, a week spent living mostly on marshmallow fluff, and an entire group of girls (beginning with me) who became infested with body lice …

And I stopped and laughed and thought–because this was the first time I’d put all those details together on paper–okay, maybe I can see everyone’s point.

Even without the bits about how I stopped keeping kosher because of some heavy rain, or how we all began ordering the least expensive items on the restaurant menus in hopes that the leaders would get in trouble for sending us home with too much money, or how one of the adults at the last minute brought her ten year old son along (something to do with her recent divorce), or how when another adult–the only one of four able and willing to drive by the end–started taking No-Doz, we all told our parents the leaders were doing drugs.

Can you tell that going on this trip was the best thing I ever did, giving me self-confidence and a determination to get back to the west that stayed with me pretty much, well, forever?

The fact that it was just might be the funniest part of all.

Writerly note to self

When you have a trunk novel about which, for more than a year, you’ve been saying: I really like the worldbuilding and the story and the plot, the only problem is the two main characters … it’s worth at least considering that the fix might be getting rid of those characters and letting someone else tell the story instead.

Or maybe not–I’m still thinking about it. There are other possible fixes, too, including the obvious one of overhauling the main characters.

But it’s kind of amazing just how long it took for the ditch-the-protagonists option to even make it onto the table.