Driving on Observation and Instinct

Driving without navigational aids (i.e. GPS, Google maps, etc.) is rewarding to me. Understanding that interstates with three numbers are a beltway and two are a stretch of road brings so much more to the travel experience. Other bits of information like odd numbered interstates generally run north and south, while evens run east to west fit smartly in the library of my mind. It’s like I’ve taken control of my activities and wield them in powerful ways.

The biggest lessons of all aren’t presented by any department of transportation, however, and come with experience. First and foremost is the emotional conditioning a driver needs to shrug off things like panic. I’d assert that panic is just as deadly as drinking/texting while driving. You make poor decisions out of fear.

One big fear as a rural kid was the fear of getting lost. As directions would have it, there is an impression of one true way to get to your destination. After phrasing it like this, we all know that’s not the case. We never think of it in terms of that though. Do we? “[expletive removed] I missed my exit. What the [expletive removed] am I going to do now?” Well, there are a number of things and all of them do not involve slamming on the breaks and trying to cross eight feet (~2.5m) of asphalt at 75 mph (~120 kmh) with ten feet (~3m) of clearance.

After five minutes of working on the planning efforts (timeline, webbing, etc.), I decided I had taken a wrong turn with My City by the Bay. What do I do next? It certainly wasn’t panic, as that would be pointless. The fortunate part for me is this story is only in draft format, has not been to an editor or any publisher, and certainly hasn’t been purchased by a reader expecting to be entertained. That’s the good news. The bad news is there’s about 4,000 words I’ve spent quite a bit of energy on which have no identifiable use as of right now. That’s not to say they could be recycled later on, but for right now I see them as a square peg in a round hole.

This is a time where I should see the situation as good thing, a chance to reflect and change things for the better. On the other hand, it’s also going to be a time spent throwing a metaphorical ball at a whiteboard like Dr. Gregory House.

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4 thoughts on “Driving on Observation and Instinct

  1. I love the analogy of driving and crying, I mean, writing.

    I write so many words I never use, Nate. I’m doing it right now, off the blog. I believe a written word is never wasted, if it helps me get deeper into an issue or character or scene. Like last week, I wrote 25K words on a novel, and I’ll probably throw out more than half of those just to get to the story. (I’m not an outliner.) Just let your characters take over. See where they take you from here. I had one of those epiphanies yesterday, and there’s almost nothing like it, where my character did something that I never would’ve thought of, and I was like “YES!!! THAT’S IT!!!”

    • There have been times on certain occasions where something has risen out of what I would call “the character doing it their own way.” That’s my way of saying the character took over. However, I find the general direction and plot still my own charge, and if it doesn’t make sense in my head, then I’m not happy with it.

      To summarize the problem, I didn’t like the way they were still focusing on the girlfriend of the thug when he has been followed. It doesn’t sound right. It makes no sense to me. I want the girlfriend to have a smaller part and those two to keep their eyes on the prize.

  2. I’ve yet to start on a novel, Nate, so I’m a stranger in a strange land, so to speak. As I chuck out so many words writing my short posts, to have any hope of completing a novel, I should have started on it about 20 years ago. Nice post.

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