A Really Bad Car Analogy


It’s 3 p.m. on a Friday and I’m a couple hundred words shy of my daily goal and 12,000 words in my supernatural thriller In the Flesh. Today, I can’t concentrate on writing the next scene because I’m not completely sure where I’m going. My brain is restless and wandering. And I want to move furniture. I move furniture a lot, especially when I’m feeling restless, usually in Spring and Fall, or when I’ve been cooped up in one place for too long. It drives the cats and my spouse nuts, but it’s cheaper than road trips.

The windows are open (tomorrow it’s supposed to be 70+ degrees! In January!) I love the Southwest! But that warm air and sunshine does nothing for my need to sit BICHOK (Butt In Chair Hands On Keyboard). I look out the window and see all of the yard work that needs to get done. And I look at the mountains and want to go hiking. Or driving; I love road trips. Meanwhile, inside, my progress stalls.

When I was writing in my 20s I was largely a pantser. I had a calendar appointment book for my ongoing shared-world anthology filled with one-sentence reminders of what the next installment should be. I used to hop in my car and drive for hours, out of state, to places I’ve never been to meet virtual strangers (fellow authors of my shared-world). Did I mention I love road trips?

These days I have discovered that, after raising a child, working 15+ years in an office setting, and having bills to pay, I require more organization and stability than I did in my wild, misspent youth.  I still love the freedom to go off somewhere unknown on an adventure of discovery, but the journey is always planned in advance. I also have a need to Google the hell out of where I’m going so I know what to expect and how to act (important in a state with many American Indian reservations) when I arrive, and to have detailed maps of how to get there. I don’t interact with strangers as easily as I did when I was 25. And now I am conceding that my writing process requires some structure as well.

I have tried pantsing this work in progress, and what I have so far isn’t too far off the mark of where it should be at this word count. But now I’ve written myself into a dilemma. I hopped in my car and drove into the unknown, but didn’t get directions to where I was headed, and I have only the vaguest idea of what to expect. And now the car is breaking down and I’m running out of gas.

So next week I’m taking a break from my word count goals and working on my plot. My demon narrator, Ian, is being hunted by a conclave of magi and I have no idea why. My goal for next week is to find out why and make some maps (read: outline) for where I need to go. Next Saturday I get to go on a little road trip through the Gila mountains with chocolate as the destination, so that should take care of some of my seasonal restlessness. Then, it’s back to my word count goals. If it takes all week, I’ll lose 2500 words worth of progress. But slowing down and getting to the destination is a lot better than driving in circles at high speed.

old race car


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