How a Soul Crushing Traffic Jam Inspired a Novel

There is something universal about being stuck in a traffic jam. All of us recognize that hellish experience.

“A novel inspired by traffic” What does that mean?

When I was writing a novel inspired by food, most understood what that meant. There is plenty of foodie fiction floating around and oodles of movies centered around eating experiences. However while writing Take The Highway, I would tell friends “my next novel is about traffic” I could sense confusion in people’s faces.

The same way eating is a universal experience, being in traffic is an almost universal experience. Anybody living in a city has experienced the frustration of being stuck in a traffic jam, or being on an overcrowded bus where one person is not considerate to the people around them. On the flip side, most of us had the pleasant experience of driving down the road on a sunny day towards a fun destination sitting next to somebody you love. Or the fun surprise when you bump into somebody on a cross walk you were hoping to meet. You can turn those experiences into a common language, an alphabet of sorts that is used to tell a story. Those experiences in traffic can easily become a a metaphor for everything that happens in life.

In place of

It was a dark and stormy night.

you have

It was a soul crushing traffic jam.

You don’t need to know any of this to enjoy reading the book. In the end it’s a story with a beginning, middle and end. I just got tired of reading novels that use weather to set the mood, or novels that use a particular city as a character in the novel. There is nothing wrong with these literary devices, they do work. I wanted to get a bit creative. Do something out of the box.

Think about all the traffic signs you see on your way to the office in the morning. Think about how they control our lives, how we obey them at times, and what happens when we ignore them.

Contemplate how a no U Turn sign might inspire you to alter your life’s course if you read it the way you read an inspirational quote on twitter.

Think about the connection people have with their cars. How it can reflect personality and status.

A novel inspired by a traffic jam

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