“I don’t understand. We should be farther along by now.” Jerin flicked his map against the breeze bending the parchment. “I was so careful in my research.” He finally resorted to spreading the parchment across a fallen log. His thick finger followed the line he’d drawn of the White Road as he muttered about how they should be out of the plains by now.
“We’re supposed to pass through another forest before we come to a town called Jolly Orchard. From there, we’ll be near the foot of the mountains.” Shading his eyes, he searched the horizon. Scrubby hills surrounded them, dotted with clumps of low-growing sprawling trees. Aside from a few edible root-type plants, they were hard put for any kind of vegetation to complement their sparse meals. “I see no sign of forest or mountain in the blasted land. Perhaps we got off on the wrong path?”
“Impossible," said Alyra. "You heard what Carah said. Others might meet this one, but this one will never divide or split in different directions. They all head straight for Aloblase.”
Wistfulness crossed his blue eyes. “I remember.”
Alyra dropped her pack beside the base of an elm, then climbed up into the branches.
“What are you doing, monkey?”“Getting a better view, slug.” She grinned down at him. Reaching as high as she dared, she saw only more hills in the hazy distance.
When Our Best Laid Plans...
The scene I shared above from Illuminated came to me and I started laughing. Despite all this planning, I never really know where my story will end up taking me.
I guess Jerin is a bit like me, too. Or he came by his love for order honestly, as I've heard said of someone who gets their qualities from their parents.
In the story, Jerin spends his weeks healing from a broken leg doing research on old maps, working to purchase supplies and making sure everything is ready to go.
Alyra, on the other hand, doesn't even want to think about getting back on the road. Until it's time. Once she decides she's ready, she is ready to go. Right then. No planning, or stocking or anything. She's simply ready to go.
Thus, my friends, is the difference between a "Seat of the Pants" writer, and a "Plotter." Actually, for anyone. I mean, some of us need to have everything planned out. Down to the last detail. While others can throw some socks and tighty whities into a suitcase and go.
As a friend once said to me, "I have four good tires and a tank of gas. What's to stop me from going if that's what I want to do?"
Um, I guess nothing.
In his heart, a man plans his course,
but the Lord determines his steps. Proverbs 16:9
See my storyboard below? It's only in the beginning stages. By time I finish working on the story, it'll be full of pictures I've collected, sticky notes in various colors and more sketches of towns and other places that I need to visualize.
Being that I'm a visual learner... meaning if I see it, I can do it... having pictures and a plot line helps me to know where I am in my story.
And perhaps I'm like this in life, as well. I just need to see where I'm going with something. Once I see the possibility, I'm pumped and ready to go.
I wasn't able to go to college until I was in my 30's. Yet going had been a long time dream that I simply thought would never happen. When you have a family and responsibilities, it's hard to stop everything to take time to learn a new skill. But still... oh, I wanted it so bad. And prayed for it often.
Then my second child came along and I was staying home to care for him. So one day, I went up to the college and talked to a counselor. Just because. I was debating between teaching or counseling, but at the time, leaning more toward teaching. This marvelous individual laid out a course plan and showed me how I could get a degree, and even showed me how to seek out financial help to pay for it.
I walked out of that office a different person. Clutching the degree plan in my hand, I swear I was walking on clouds instead of a concrete sidewalk. And as I neared my car, a chant rose up from my spirit and poured out of my mouth:
I can do this. I can really do this. It's not impossible after all.
And I did.
And so can you. I didn't get into college on my own efforts. I prayed a lot about it. Doors were opened. Yet I worked hard. I didn't give up. Some classes I had to take two or three times before I got though them. (math... yuck) But I did get through them.
Don't be afraid of drawing your maps. Perhaps your story will take off in a different direction, like mine sometimes do. But the map is the first step in taking those first nervous steps. A map will help you see there really is a way through.
And of course, stay on the path. For pete's sake!
Are you up for the Journey?