Your Destination is on the Left
Friday I had the pleasure of reading Lauren Spieller’s debut novel, Your Destination is on the Left. I’m not much of a YA reader, but I have to honestly say I enjoyed this book from beginning to end. Like I said, I read it in one day. It was that good.
And what made it so good to me?
The writing is smooth and easy-going. The story is easy to follow. But there is something more. The story is a pep-talk of sorts, even for someone my age. Let me explain.
The Artist’s Way
The main character in Spieller’s book, Dessa, is a young girl trying to get into college to go to art school. She thinks that’s what’s going to make or break the difference in her being a successful artist. I’m not going to take anything way from having a formal education. Lord knows I have three daughters I want to each earn college degrees so they have the best chance of being successful in this modern world. My degree in political science from Auburn has helped me along the way, too.
But I, too, am an artist and I’m also a writer. As a matter of fact, I’m a late bloomer when it comes to being a novel writer. Presently, I have three different genre first drafts written, and I have one ready for querying. So far I’ve sent out 65 queries. To date, I have 21 rejections (number 21 coming this morning) and I have two agents who have asked for more (a request for a full came Saturday!!) and are considering offering representation.
It’s those 21 who have said no who have made me feel like Dessa and question myself with such self-doubt at times it’s almost been stifling. With each new rejection email I receive, even at 52, I feel worse, I think, because I don’t have as long left in life as she does to make the big time with my art.
So reading about a young girl who kept going in the face of adversity, I needed to read that. I needed the kick in the pants this book provides from her mentor, the woman she takes an internship with, who believes in her and encourages her to keep going. Dessa also has friends and a love interest who do the same. In many ways, I have those, too.
But what Spieller captures in her book is the inherent loneliness artists feel inside as we scrape like hell to break out of our shells and fight to prove to the world that our art, our writing in my case, is something worthy of standing on its own–if only we can get it in front of the right people/person at the right time and in the right place. As I wrote in a previous blog post, that’s pretty darned hard and discouraging. But it has to be done. It’s part of the process of making art better and developing one’s sea legs. It’s part of maturing as an artist and in many cases, learning how to do things better.
I Recommend Your Destination is on the Left
That is what makes Your Destination is on the Left such a wonderful and inspiring read for anyone, regardless of age, regardless of profession or mission in life. This book takes its readers on a journey, an honest journey through life and offers hope. Something that seems so remote and lacking in this day and age of ugly partisan fighting and arguing via social media and politics.
Lauren Spieller’s book was a great read and I encourage you, no matter where you are in a life journey, discouraged or encouraged, to pick up this book and read it, absorb it, and use it to lift yourself up. That’s what I got out of it and I am certain you will, too.
DISCLOSURE: I met Lauren Spieller during the DFWCon in early June 2018 and pitched her The Voodoo Hill Explorer Club. She is one of the 65 agents I have pitched and queried. In all fairness to her and anyone else reading this, I thought I need to mention that. She was on my agents to pitch list well before DFWCon. After reading her book, I have even more respect for her, regardless of whether she becomes my agent or not. She is a talented writer and her book is a good read.
Your Destination is on the Left is listed as number 85 my Reading List of 101 books I’m reading to become a better writer.