I will immediately give credit to the many writers who have come before me and let you know—I did not create that phrase. But I love it.
This past weekend, one of my sisters (the third of us is very pregnant and opted out) and I, our daughters, and our mother traveled to the Biltmore for Mother’s Day weekend. The Biltmore, for those of you who don’t know (forgive the excessive detail, for those of you who do), was built in the late 1890s by George Vanderbilt. George’s grandfather, Cornelius, made all the money and his son, George’s father, doubled the fortune. From what I can tell, George did nothing other than spend.
And he did that very well. He traveled to the Blue Ridge mountains, fell in love with the mountains, and built a 250 room house—99 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, indoor pool, bowling alley, all for a family of 3. He purchased 100,000 surrounding acres and shipped in artisans, housing them in a nearby village—which he also purchased. The house is beautiful, the gardens lovely, but I am still drawn to what drew him—the land.
All of this is an aside to the point I want to make. Driving from one side of South Carolina to the other, and then into North Carolina, took me through the mountains. Going up was breathtaking—the fresh spring green white oaks and poplars blooming. Coming back Sunday, through the morning fog, held mystery, and an illusion—that you could drive right off the side of a mountain and the clouds would hold you up.
I think that’s how I’ve approached writing in the past. I love the thrill of just putting my bottom in a chair and flying. Wherever the stories take me, whatever the characters want to reveal, I’m game.
Flying through the fog works sometimes, particularly if you’re actually in an airplane and have good directional instrumentation.
But, sometimes it doesn’t. I have a manuscript from three years ago,--223 pages into it, I quit. I hate to say I flew over the edge, but I think I did. It’s not too painful, thank goodness, because, unlike in the real world, we have tools to get back on track. I’ve picked up a book by Karen Weisner, First Draft in 30 Days, and am re-plotting to see where I drove off the cliff, if the car is totaled, and so on. I think it’s working.
One final but, however. There’s not the thrill of fog flying here. I have to push myself to go back and edit. I have a million and one things to do around the house—unpacking, for one. So, this fog flier is going to allow myself to work on another manuscript for fun while being a plotter the rest of the day.
So, question—do others find a combination works best—or are there strict plotters and pantsers out there?