When I travel, I’m the girl with the map. I’m skilled at reading maps (apparently not as common for women). But nothing I do is quite common. Before heading somewhere, I study my map. I look at it from different angles. Memorize street names and turns. Alternate street names and turns. Just in case one of those routes turns out to be a dead end or a road that no longer exists–I’ve had that happen. As a result, I rarely get lost. Unless I’m in Richmond. That seems to be the black hole of maps. Or my ability to read a map.
So I’m not sure why it is that I believe I’m a pantser (autocorrect wants to call me a panther–erm, okay). Possibly because the first year I did NaNo, I religiously waited until November 1st to start my novel. Well, at least on paper. But like my map reading, I studied my story in my head. Not one word went on paper, put I’d thought out characters, different scenarios, locations etc. The idea wasn’t fully formed in my head, put I had the basic plot more or less set out in my head. I may have gotten quite lost in the Richmond of my story, but found my way out eventually. Or maybe the story is still lost in Richmond.
Every year after that first one, I went in with a blank slate. No thinking, no studying. No google for legends, ideas, myths. Nothing. And every year since that first one, my story has failed. I haven’t figured out characters, plot, character arc. My story didn’t even make it out of the driveway. It’s pretty sad writing 50,000 words about your car and how beautiful your driveway looks. Trust me.
This year, I finally acknowledged I operate better with a map and a firm guide on where I’m going. Like a plot. Now the only thing I need to worry about is getting lost in Richmond. But I’m pretty sure if I turn the map right way up, I’ll be able to find my way out of there.