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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Fear of Flying

No, I'm not talking about Erica Jong's novel. I mean I am afraid to fly in airplanes. I have been known to drive 1500 miles practically nonstop to avoid flying. Yet, tomorrow I'm boarding a plane and heading to New England. Yes, this aerophobe is planning to fly on 9/11. To Logan airport in Boston, no less. And worst of all, my flight leaves at 6:40 AM. Way too early to drink myself into an oblivious walking coma.

So, how is this related to writing (besides the fact that my trip will culminate in the Seascape Novel Retreat a week from tomorrow)? Well, here is where JK Rowling comes in.

Everyone's heard the story of how she wrote the first Harry Potter as an unemployed single mom toiling away with ink-stained fingers in a coffee shop, rocking her baby's stroller with a foot while conjuring her story about an orphan who discovers on his 11th birthday that he's a wizard.

A little less known is how she got the idea in the first place. Before the coffee shop, even before the baby, JK Rowling was riding the train when the first seeds of the story came to her. It was a four-hour train ride, and she didn't have so much as a pencil on her to write anything down. For me, that would have been the end of the story, but she says it was a godsend. She was forced to plan out all the major plot points of the entire story arc in her head.

Tomorrow I will be stuck on a plane or in an airport for 7 1/2 hours. One of the workshops at the retreat will be on how to write a synopsis, a skill for which I have absolutely no talent. In order to prepare for that much needed class, I plan on using all that time to finish plotting out my current WIP so I'll have the raw material from which to create a masterful and agent-enticing synopsis. And that's where any similarities between me and JK Rowling end.

Besides the obvious differences, I am planning on carrying ample writing periphrenalia with me--as much as I can fit into a carry-on bag. Other women may travel with makeup, lotions, and tissues. I'll have pens, pencils, and paper. And maybe some tissues. I will probably cry, possibly several times, during this process. After all, I was the girl who always outlined my high school essays AFTER I'd written them because I just couldn't seem to manage it the other way around.

So, my plan is that when I finally land in Boston at 1 PM eastern time, I will have a preliminary outline of my novel.

Wish me luck on both accounts!


1 comment:

  1. Update: Despite (or perhaps due to) increased security because of the date, the actual flight was fine. My challenges in completing the synopsis turned out to be entirely self-inflicted.

    First: my poor math skills. I was adding an hour of time to my trip instead of subtracting as I flew from the central time zone to eastern. So my the entire trip took 6 hours instead of 7 1/2.

    Second: because I haven't flown in 5 or 6 years, I'd forgotten how long stuff takes, from the waiting time boarding and embarking the plane, to having to trot (or in my case, shuffle) from one end of the airport to the other to reach the gate of the second leg of my flight, along with using the facilities, stoking up on coffee, and using the facilities again.

    Third: Apparently I've developed the same kind of motion sickness while reading on a plane as I have when riding in a car. Even though I had an aisle seat. Just great.

    However, I still made some huge progress on my outline, working out some troublesome plot points and filling in many of the scenes necessary to connect the major plot points. I came off the plane in Boston nauseous but exultant.

    I am only hoping that when I actually read what I wrote, at least some of it makes sense!



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