Double Duty

Jessie: In NH where the frost is thick on the ground in the mornings.

the-suitcase-811122_1920I am looking forward to a full slate of travel plans over the course of the next few weeks. I am just barely 5 foot 3 inches tall and placing things in the overhead bin is always a ridiculous struggle. So, I make it a habit to travel with the smallest amount of carry on luggage possible. Whenever I can I bring a backpack ot tote that I can fit under the seat in front of me.

I find it makes my travel plans so much simpler if I have fewer things to manage and less to carry. I start out by planning which shoes are appropriate for the events planned for the trip and for the weather at the destination. After that I choose clothing items that mix and match and do double and triple duty and I always toss a few hardworking accessories like brightly colored scarves and jaunty hats.

I plan out what I will pack a few days ahead by placing a wide variety of possibilities on my bed and then editing the options down to the best and fewest possible choices that get the job done.

It occured to me that the whole process is a lot like writing. I start out with a vague idea of where I am going and what I expect to do whilst I wandering in a story world. I begin with the foundation of the thing, the frame of story arc and genre expectations which has much in common with deciding on the right shoes. Both require a careful, practical notion of what is most important as opposed to what is tempting and fashionable and unlikely to go the distance in a satisfactory way.

Next I lay out a whole slew of possibilities that can mix and match and blend and look like far more than they are once combined. It is an easy enough thing to make an outfit look like something completely different when it is topped by a different scarf. A wardrobing red herring, so to speak. Mysteries are much the same. They fool the reader by using words to call attention from the facts of the story by waving a brightly colored clue back and forth.

The editing and revising and debating about which clothing item or which scene in the story is the best choice or working the hardest to serve the overall experience feels the same to me in each situation too. Scenes that are able to do double duty by building relationships between characters, revealing a bit of backstory or advancing a subplot are like the layering pieces that can be worn multiple ways.

Even when I am traveling it seems my mind is on my writing. I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Readers, which things about your life would you never want to change? 


27 Thoughts

  1. This reminds me, I need to pack for Indianapolis and I probably really should go looking for another pair of dressy black flats.

    Working from home and writing get my vote.

  2. Personally, I would hate to change one thing in my life – good or bad. I feel that going through what I have made me who I am now and I’m very comfortable with that. Also they say if you change one thing that your destination would be altered. I wouldn’t want to be any where with any one else than where I am and who I am with.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  3. Enthusiasm! I love discovering new things and places, and learning new skills. And of course most of those happy discoveries show up in my writing (which was another latecomer!).

  4. What I’d like to never lose is my ability to care for myself. I’m going to be 71 in January. I have Arthritis, compressed discs in my lower back, a bit of nerve damage to one finger on my right hand and DO NOT want to be a burden on ANYONE!

  5. I am a very precise packer, though I am not a minimalist like you. For years (decades) I prided myself on wearing everything I took on a trip. I don’t do accessories–ever. I have enough trouble just keeping my clothes unspotted and on straight, much less other stuff.

    Which strikes me very much like my writing–no frills and no extra stuff. I use pretty much everything I generate.

    1. I actually think of your “wear everything at least once” policy when I pack my own bags! But I am far too in love with accessories. I think maybe our writing voices show that difference too!

    1. It is tough when people move out of our physical orbits. Thankfully, there is video chatting and online conversations like this one to help patch up some of the gaps, at least in small ways.

  6. I wouldn’t want to change anything even the really bad stuff. It all made me who I am today and I love my life today.

  7. Oh, and I’m a great packer. I have pre-packed little bags with make-up, toothbrush and paste, etc. that I can pull out of the drawer and I don’t have to think about. Makes it much easier to not forget things.

    1. I have one of those too! It is part of my travel kit and I restock it when I return from a trip so it is at the ready for the next voyage without a thought.

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