Sunday, June 10, 2007

Step by Step

Well, parties are over, celebrations done (for the moment!) and it's back to run-of-the-mill, mundane life around here.

HEY! No it isn't. Because 1. Life is never dull here on the Playground! There's always some drama going down. And 2. We're preparing for our Scotland adventure, or as I like to call it, the Trip of a Lifetime (No pressure, PC!). :)

So how do you prepare for something like this? In my case, it has seriously resembled pre-writing a book:

1. The Idea Forms.

I actually wasn't around for this part. Apparently, it was decided on the way home from RWA's Reno conference in 2005. And I believe Rhonda Nelson had something to do with it (thanks, Rhonda!!!).

2. Preliminary Research and Brainstorming.

Is this idea even feasible? Within the realm of possibilities? We weren't sure, so we sent the canary, I mean Problem Child, to find out. Poor Problem Child, she's done a whole lot of work for this trip!!!

We looked into lodging costs, car rentals, and places we'd like to see. We ruled out some, got excited about most, while the idea grew and grew.

3. Commitment to the Idea.

With a book, you usually decide this before you've invested too much time in the book. Once you've decided to commit, that this is the book you want to dedicate the coming months, maybe even years to, it's the launch pad for everything.

With this trip, commitment came in a more tangible form. Can you say, "Time to buy the plane tickets"? There's nothing like investing $800 on a non-refundable item to make you seriously consider whether this is the right move for you. But 5 of us decided it was, and the idea transformed into a reality.

4. Working Out the Details.

This is the plot point of the book, where you brainstorm the twists and turns, the troubles you'll lay in store for your characters.

Whereas before we were just talking ideas, now we were talking details. Thus a Scotland Trip Yahoo group was formed, so we could easily throw suggestions back and forth, report on what we found, and tie down a schedule.

Problem Child even gave us homework, like the good teacher she is. We were each given a day and a place and told to research items of interest and report back to the group. Names of historical castles and cathedrals were bandied about, then chosen once everyone had voiced an opinion. Thus we now have an intricately details itinerary that we may throw out at any moment upon seeing something more interesting along the path.

5. Deep Research.

There are always parts of a book that will give you trouble and require you to dig deeper. Whether it's a location, occupation, or activity that you've never done before, writers must research things they don't know. (Okay, I'll admit it. I don't know everything. *gasp*) Actually, learning about new places, people, and things is one of the really cool parts of being a writer.

When it comes to places, I love to dig deeper. Knowing how exciting this was for me, and my desire to be prepared, a close friend of mine bought me some books on Scotland for Christmas. She bought me one of those huge picture books on castles. And a travel guide with history, place descriptions, and lots of lodging, restaurant, etc., info I won't need because we have Problem Child. :)

Besides pouring over these two volumes, I've also explored all the links we've passed around to the specific places we're visiting. Looking at the pictures, reading the history, just made me even more excited. Besides, when I get there, I actually want to understand the significance of what I'm looking at.

6. Last Minute.

This is the mode I'm in now. With a book, you prep all those last minute details. Make sure you have writing utensils (in my case, a pack of paper and pens, for some people it's their computer). Gather your notes together in some order that makes sense. And make sure the kids are occupied for a good length of time. :)

For this trip, I've got a list that is slowly getting smaller, so I'm grateful for that. Two days ago it felt like it was a mile long. I've got to pack, take care of household things like bills and groceries in the house (just to make it easier on the babysitters, my husband is delightfully self-sufficient), print all the info I want to take with me, and then....

7. Enjoy the Ride!

Writing my first, second, and third books were each incredible journeys where I learned so much. I know each of my subsequent books will be the same. I certainly hope so!!!

Now I get to go on a fun, inspiring, exciting trip with four wonderful women. This is a journey I'm going to enjoy every moment of....



Smarty Pants said...

I can't believe we're going in 2 days. I'm just giddy! (And completely stressed out. Not packed yet. Not even started packing yet...)


Instigator said...

I know! I'm so excited I can't see straight. It's been a whirlwind week and my to do list is a mile long...


Problem Child said...

Much to do... must get busy.

At it was hatched at the Friday night authors' dinner for the 2006 luncheon. And yes, it was Rhonda's idea.

Playground Monitor said...


I'll miss you.

But hopefully the Friends of the Playground will keep me company with jokes and funny stories and interesting websites to look at and maybe some games. Oh and hunky guys are always a treat. ;-)


Kathy said...

I'll be here for you in the AM and PM, PM! You won't be alone. There will be new and old kids on the block to keep you company. (Cue Romper Room mirror) You'll see Kathy and Lynn, the Maven all three, Jen and Misty, and endless friends to be. :-)

I'm so envious! Remember me, guys. As you walk where William Wallace walked, as you visit castles and enter historical places, feel the sea breeze on your skin and the highland air ruffle your hair, remember you'll be a part of that history now. Enjoy! Enjoy!

Don't forget to look for those kilt clad lads too. :-)


Lynn Raye Harris said...

LOL, Kathy, great rhyme! :) Have a great time, Playfriends. I never got to Scotland when I was overseas. Always wanted to go too. Keep an eye out for Nessie!

Word verification: vrmrrba -- does that sound like something a Scot would say or what?!