Thursday, July 28, 2016

Blogiversary Guest Post: Can running away ever solve anything? by Lily Graham author of The Summer Escape

Can running away ever solve anything?

We’re often told that running away rarely, if ever, solves anything, and that you take yourself with you, and your problems too. But I don’t think it’s a binary issue. For many people, changing their circumstances … and yes, running away, really is the answer. Abusive partners, dangerous cities, and situations … sometimes true freedom is only achieved by getting the hell out.

It’s a question that intrigued me at a very difficult period in my life, and helped shape what would later become my first finished novel. Like, Ria, the main character in my novel, The Summer Escape, I was stuck in a job that I despised, and going through one of the most difficult periods of my life, with my mother battling breast cancer, eight years ago. Running away, then was not an option, of course, but a part of me desperately wanted to run away from all the pain and heartache we were going through as a family. I think that’s when for the first time I turned to writing fiction as a means of release and escape.

I used to drive past the airport lane on the way to work. I had a boss, who enjoyed micromanaging a browbeaten team. Some days I’d be late for work because I was trying to get myself to just get out my car.  I would imagine what would happen, if just once I didn’t go in, if I took that airport lane by mistake. It got me thinking about what would really lead someone to run away.  So I started writing what was back then my first women’s fiction novel. Before that my fiction was mostly fantasy based. Still a love of mine, but if I didn’t go through what I had, I’m not sure I would have ever written in the genre. The story didn’t really work back then. But it helped me process some of my emotions. It also helped me to quit my job, which I did one day, after my boss had crossed one line too far, when she couldn’t understand why I would want or need to be with my mother when she was undergoing treatments.

Running away from that, was one of the best decisions I ever made. Though, of course, everyone, myself included was shocked that I’d quit without any prospects lined up. I cannot describe the freedom, the delicious wrongness I felt in leaving. Or the fear. Soon enough though, I’d gotten a job as a reporter for my local newspaper, and my mother was on the path to recovery. In many ways, that decision to run away, was the turning point for me. It also really set me on the road to becoming a journalist and later an author.

Which is why, when a few years ago, I dusted off that old manuscript – with some gentle prodding from my best friend, and started working on the book again. I realized as I wrote it, that I’d needed some life experience to really write it, as I’d been through my own experience of it.  This time, truly understanding, why sometimes, very occasionally, you really do need to run away, to find yourself again.

The Summer Escape is available now!

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