04 August 2010

Burning my boats

Almost 500 years ago, Hernando Cortes set out to conquer Mexico--his determination so great, he burned his boats once he and his men came ashore. This act not only made sure his men would fight when they'd rather retreat, but also provided fodder for motivational speakers for centuries to come.

By burning our boats, we ensure we don't quit when the goal becomes too big or too scary or too far away. However, by burning our boats, we also ensure our commitment to a cause that we obviously don't agree with--at least not wholeheartedly. For if we were wholly committed there would be no need to burn our boats.

These thoughts have been twisting through my head the past several days after the heroine in my current WIP takes a step that could be viewed as the 12th century equivalent of burning her boat.

My hero chides her for taking such a narrow view of success: "There is always another way to get what you want," he says in the story that I've taken to calling the Yorkshire Gothic (even though it's set in Northumberland). "In fact, there are usually two or three different ways to get what you want."

These were not the words I expected to come out of my hero's mouth. Until that point, I'd pictured him as rather monomaniacal, and the scene was supposed to spark a moment of empathy with the heroine.

Instead, she took umbrage at his attitude, and they are further apart than ever.
Then I began to wonder if Rye was talking to me. The truth is I can become fixated on one thing to the near exclusion of all else. And for the past six months or so I've been determined  to find a way to shake things up--only I can't decide on the one way to do it.

  • Travel?
  • New job?
  • Move to Key West and take up improv?
The problem is I've been looking for a way when there are multiple paths to get to where I want to be.

Overlooking the small fact that my characters are now talking to me, I've decided to try Option A and if that doesn't work, move on.  I'm not out to conquer Mexico, after all. I don't need to burn my boats.


Jeffe Kennedy said...

Can travel include a trip to Santa Fe??

Keena Kincaid said...

I was thinking Scotland, but Santa Fe could work.