Friday, August 11, 2017

Having a Plan

The news this week -- that my laptop insists on delivering to me as breaking news -- has been distracting. Particularly because I'm racing to finish the draft of my nonfiction book while outlining my 1939 thriller. But I realized something important this week. Rather than going along and trying to ignore the news, I need to "go there." I don't do well when I practice positive thinking. Over the years, I've learned that doesn't work because I'm not prepared when, for example, the low tire pressure light comes on as I'm on the interstate on my way to a library event, or when the equipment malfunctions when I'm about to do a Power Point, or when I dribble salad dressing on my blouse right before I'm supposed to speak. So, now I imagine all the things that can go wrong on my way to an event. I print out a copy of my Power Point for myself and a handout of anything I want the audience to be able to see. I have a packet of stain remover if I know I won't have time to change. I feel much more in control when I anticipate and have a plan.

So yesterday when I was trying to write while ignoring the breaking news headline that had popped up on my computer, it occurred to me that I should just stop and do something. On cue my cat Harry strolled into the room. And I acknowledged my "not Boomer" problem. Those of you who have seen Independence Day will recall that Vivica Fox's dog Boomer jumped right out of that car and into the tunnel utility closet when she called to him. He obeyed when he should.
However, Harry is not Boomer. He's a cat, not a dog. He has incredible hearing, but ignores me as if he's deaf. He does not like riding in a car, and will hide under the bed when he sees me bringing in his metal dog crate (big cat). If we need to leave quickly, he is not going to morph into the cat version of Boomer. So yesterday I decided to tackle the problem by running through the Harry scenarios. That inspired me to get out the airline travel carrier I'd ordered for him and put it together. He was curious and spent five minutes inside enjoying the nice, thick cushion. Then I got out the clicker that I bought. The clerk at the pet store assured me that I can train him to come when called. I wanted to try training him, now it's more important. I'm also going to get out the harness that I bought ages ago and have another go at teaching him to walk on leash.

Other items on my list: Buy disposable litter pans. Make a note to put his vaccination papers and medical record into an envelope. Check my own emergency tote that I bought after 9-11. Get out my Army survival manual. . .

And, yes, I am feeling better. I always feel better when I face an issue and do what I can to prepare. Doing something also apparently freed up some brain cells. As I was working at the office at school with Shadow of a Doubt playing in the background (the movie premiered in 1943), it occurred to me that I should be channeling Alfred Hitchcock with my 1939 historical. I can't and don't want to write The Da Vinci Code. I'm more interested in suspense than breakneck speed. And when I began to imagine my book as a Hitchcock thriller, I could see the scenes that had been blurry. The conversation that my villain has with a lovely couple he encounters at the New York World's Fair. His charming manner as he chats with them while watching someone across the room that he suspects is  following him. . .

Of course the outline for the book may be coming together because I've also contemplated writing disaster. I was in a serious panic last week about whether I could actually write a book with a complicated plot, multiple settings, a historical, a thriller. I considered the worst case scenario -- never finishing a book I want so much to write. Now, I'm much calmer, and I have a plan. I'm going full Hitchcock -- reading about and applying his techniques. Whether it works or not, I'm feeling much more in control.

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