The tiny little dictionary I have in my work desk defines the word "journey" as "to travel."
I bring this up because the word "journey" has become one of those go to words that's being used WAY too much.
Don't believe me? Okay, ponder this: Recently I completed...sort of...Gold's Gym 12 week body challenge. I've now been asked to write an essay detailing my "journey" during the challenge.
This request is just one in a very long line to things that have now been labeled a journey. I'm not sure, but I believe we have Paula Abdul to blame for this over use of the word. If you recall, some time in the middle seasons of "American Idol" Paula Abdul started using the phrase, "Your journey with us is over." As if that wasn't bad enough, Ryan Seacrest, that pocket sized Peter Pan that is going to use his elfin magic to some day rule us all, picked up the phrase and now, though Paula is a faint memory in American Idol history, the concept of the "journey" sticks with us every single week.
I suppose you could make an argument that contestants on American Idol do go through a journey of sorts. Maybe you could argue that their transformation from unknown to household-name-for-about-three-weeks is a journey.
But really, is EVERYTHING a journey?
When we write, do we think of our characters as being on some sort of "Journey?" Maybe. I once described Dream in Color as "Ramona's Journey." But that just felt silly. It's not a journey, not really. It's her story. It's the story about how she overcomes obstacles to find true love. I don't know if we can call that a journey. Some might. Sure, Ramona loses a pile of weight and accepts that yes, she is worthy of love.
But is the concept of a journey being over used?
It certainly is in every day language. The journey ends for every contestant who gets kicked off a reality show. I've used that idea in conversation and felt really stupid afterward. Honestly, not everything is a journey. Sometimes it's just getting from point A to point B.
Gold's Body Challenge was not a journey for me. It was getting from point A to point B and hopefully losing some weight in the process. I did find out some things about myself, both physically (I have arthritis, and I won't die if I run for three minutes in a row) and mentally (My brain is not as smart as my body when it comes to running on a treadmill because my brain does not believe that a fluffy girl like me CAN run. Note, I said, CAN, not SHOULD. Two different things entirely. Just because I CAN doesn't mean I SHOULD.)
I know we all think our novels are epic tales of a heroine's journey. And wouldn't it be great it they were? But for the most part, if we really think about it, our heroes and heroine's are not all on epic journeys. Not every book, thank goodness, can be Moby Dick. (And if you've been reading this blog, you know that I rank Moby Dick as the WORST BOOK EVER WRITTEN.)
Unless your characters are named "Scarlett and Rhett" I'm not sure you can use the word "epic" when referring to a love story or a romance. (And there is a difference, my friends!) And I certainly don't think we can label every couple in a love story or romance as being on a journey. Unless they are parted by something really, really, really HUGE. like a war, or maybe a century, you really can't call it a journey. Maybe on the movie poster, but not on the book. Sorry.
So I'll be writing my essay for Gold's at some point. I think it's due in a month. And yes, I am one of those people who did everything at the last minute. But I will NOT use the word "journey."
At least, not if I can help it.