A Corn Maze from a Writer's Perspective

Monday, October 17, 2016
Making our way out of the corn maze.
Yesterday afternoon I ventured out to a local corn maze with my husband and two kids. At least two people in the family do pretty well with directions, so I figured with our map and general navigational skills, we could work ourselves out of seven-acre maze in no time, including finding the 12 different mailboxes we had to retrieve clues from.

Boy, was I wrong.

Within five minutes, my son, who had been chugging a bottle of water on the way to the maze, announced he had to go to the bathroom. Of course we were nowhere near one of the Porta Jons, so we had to stop so he could head back out of the entrance and visit the restroom area. Then we started all over again. We found four of the mailboxes within 20 minutes, then lagged behind. To be honest, we got behind a small child carrying one of the eight-foot flags we were all required to carry in case of an emergency and decided to deviate from the path to avoid getting bonked on the head. That was our downfall. We got frustrated when we saw other groups jump over borders we were not meant to take shortcuts on. We found ourselves near the end of the maze and discovered we had missed mailboxes 6 and 7 in our map and had to get help from a staff member, who sadly informed us we had to go all the way back around the outside perimeter of the maze to find those mailboxes.

At that point my daughter turned to me and said, “Have you noticed all the people that came into the maze with us, except for that one family over there, are gone now?” All the while, I’m thinking to myself, “There’s a writing lesson in here somewhere, for sure.”

Here are a few I can come up with now that I’m safely home and massaging my sore leg muscles.

You can have a strategy for a writing project, but it may not always work. There have been times I’ve outlined a service article, only to discover one of my sources either can’t help me or has decided they don’t want to be quoted. If I can’t find another source in that area, I have to rework my original plan in a way that makes sense so I can complete it and get it turned in on time. I once wrote a young adult manuscript in alternating POVs, only to have an editor at a conference tell me it was “too ambitious.” I had to start that one over from scratch, and it’s still not completed.

Give yourself more time on a project than you think you’ll need. I know, this goes without saying, but rarely do I do it myself. With the maze, we had to find our way out or spend the night in a cornfield. What I thought would take us about an hour instead took us an hour and thirty-five minutes. The above-mentioned manuscript I thought could be revised in month has been sitting on my hard drive for probably three years now. I didn’t stay the course and got frustrated. I need to treat that project as if my life depends on it (sell this thing that could produce actual income and pay some bills and quit ignoring it).

Follow the rules. We had a list of rules to follow at the maze, such as don’t break the stalks of corn, don’t take shortcuts (ahem!), don’t run unless you want to shatter a kneecap on rock half hidden in the dirt, and wave your flag in the air if you have a question or need help. Similarly, clarify assignment questions with an editor so you don’t turn in something completely different than was assigned, stay within your word count, find appropriate article sources, and follow submission rules for publications and agents so you don’t end up having your query deleted.

Being a writer can be tough and leave you frustrated and second guessing yourself on a regular basis. But take it from me, if I could make it out of that maze before the sun went down, you will find success if you work hard enough.

Jeanette Charlet Photography
Renee Roberson is an award-winning freelance writer and editor who is very glad her family decided not to do the corn maze at night with flashlights (that’s actually an option). Can you imagine? Visit her blog at Renee’s Pages.


Sioux Roslawski said...

Renee--Just the corn maza alone (I'm not even thinking of the writing projects) is ambitious (from my POV) since I have NO sense of direction.

Dust off that 3-year old manuscript. Give it a fresh look. You might just get reinterested...

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