Maps, Outlines, and Driving in the Dark


I’m not good at finding places, especially not at night. Jim is the one who made sure the kids got to all of their sporting events on time. He usually coached, and I worked a lot of evenings so this arrangement worked for us. But there was this one time when Jim had a work thing, and I was responsible for getting my son to the first basketball game of the first tournament with a new team. I want to call it the ‘elite’ league because I don’t remember what it was actually called. I do remember this game being a big deal. And we were late. And I could not find the building. (No I-phones or GPS back then.) My stress level kept rising. It did not help that my preschool- aged nephew, who I happened to be babysitting that day, was in the back seat saying, “You need a map Aunt Tammy,” over and over again.

I woke up from a nightmare this morning, about a dark and stormy night—no wait, that’s a different story, it just very dark–and I was by myself driving on an unfamiliar highway. There was a sign, but I didn’t recognize the name of the road ahead. It went up the side of a mountain. There were no lights and no guardrails and no houses on either side, just a road. I had no idea where it would take me and I was terrified. At the last second, a turnaround miraculously appeared. I took it. My fear instantly ceased. I was heading back to the familiar.

I’ve been struggling to finish my book, a thriller of sorts (Or is it a suspense? Psychological suspense? Genre still confounds me.) Every time I get to a certain point, around 100 pages, I get stuck. Each time, I end up turning around and going back to the beginning. I start over. And over and…well, you get the idea. I’ve always resisted the idea of an outline. “Writing the story won’t be any fun if I know everything that happens!” It’s also not much fun to be the hamster, stuck in a cage, running on a wheel. Sure, it’s good exercise, but when you stop, you’re still in the same place. You’re also still trapped. (I know, I’ll start a petition to free all rodents everywhere!) I also have a little procrastination problem, but that’s another subject.

So, I woke up from my nightmare this morning with the words, “You need a map Aunt Tammy,” going through my head. Wise kid. I need to figure out exactly where this story is going, or I will never reach the end. And I need to get over my fear of the dark.

In case you’re wondering, I did eventually get my son to his basketball game. When we arrived, there was a volunteer sitting at a desk blocking our way into the gym. Turns out, there is a small fee for these tournaments. Cash only, of course. And no, I did not have any on me.

“What the hell do you mean, I have to pay to watch my own kid throw a ball through a hoop!”

Did I mention I was a little stressed? I think I ended up borrowing money from the coach’s wife. The rest of that night is fuzzy.

Well, I guess it’s time to start on my outline. After I eat breakfast and read the paper, of course.

Happy Hump Day!