I was reminded today, while unexpectedly driving a stick shift car through the center of Florence, of the journey that Jessica, my main character, takes in Betting Jessica. It may seem there aren't many similarities between flying to Lake Tahoe and driving in Italy.... but there is something about stepping outside my normal comfort zone that has made me appreciate even more what Jessica went through travelling out to Tahoe on her own.
Certainly, hers was a quest... a special journey to win a bet. She had something to prove, to herself and others, and doing it on her own was part of the challenge. I too have felt the need to come back to Italy and revisit places I have used in my second and third novels. Italy has become a reflection of myself as a writer, and being here, on my own, is like my own special quest to connect with that part of me.
But, as I stood by the side of the road in a suburb of Florence watching a very nice Italian try to pantomime directions for finding Fiesole, I was struck by the fact that neither Jessica, nor I could reach our goals without the help of others. Jessica had to learn this in may ways as she pursued her plans to win the bet. As for myself... I can absolutely appreciate that I would probably still be driving around Florence had it not been for the kind help of a stranger.
So, getting lost while driving to Florence and finding myself exactly where I did not want to be, namely the center of Florence in a rental car, seemed like something out of one of my own novels. And just like Jessica, I suppose, in the moment it was stressful to say the least. But I know, looking back it will be one of those aha moments, when I realized that I didn't need to win the bet, or locate the perfect novel setting, to find myself.