Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Off We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder. . .

Yes, it's that time again. Travel time. This Friday, I'm heading to a regional mystery conference & gathering in Alabama. This is a two-day event in two separate cities: Saturday is Murder in the Magic City in Birmingham, and Sunday is Murder on the Menu at Wetumpka Public Library, near Montgomery. I'm looking forward to enjoying some warm Alabama winter weather, providing those storm systems that have been pounding the South give up and move out to sea. That would be nice.

Both gatherings have panels with the 20+ mystery authors as well as booksignings and other get-to-know-you events. Of course, you folks already know how much I enjoy going to conferences and meeting new people. Telling me I have to go into a room filled with strangers and walk around, talk to them and enjoy myself is like telling a duck he has to leave the pond and go swim in the lake. "Quack, quack."

Of course, traveling to different states usually involves air travel unless someone is uncomfortable flying. Not me. I never worry about safety or crashing or stuff like that. Statistics show we're more at risk driving our cars on our nearby highways than flying in planes. However, I'm not crazy about the many inconveniences that are now standard procedure for all us frequent flyers. Delayed flights, delayed arrivals, the delay in getting everybody boarded onto the plane so we can all take off. And my all time favorite: the delay in getting down the aisle and to your seat because one person after another up ahead stops everyone in their tracks while they try to stuff an oversized carry-on into the overhead compartments. Sigh. . .I tell you, folks, the airlines are finally going to clamp down and ruin it for everyone by forbidding all except small briefcase/purse/diaper bag size. And we'll wind up checking even more into the belly of the plane and hoping it makes it to the same city we do.

As for the trip---I actually enjoy the quiet time it affords me. If I'm not reading, then I'm actually writing while I fly. Yep, I can actually keep on writing the rough draft of a novel while I'm sitting in those cramped airline seats, next to people who're talking all around me. I simply zone them out. I do the same thing in coffee shops (another fave place to write) and under the trees in pretty locations or parks, wherever. Since I'm writing the rough draft for each mystery first, I do minimal revisions and just keep "telling the story." Getting it down on paper. Then---I start a long and laborious process of revision. But, the rough draft method actually allows me to write in strange and different locations. I don't need a certain chair or number #2 pencils (remembering a scene from an old Dick van Dyke show, years ago). I just need that laptop and the characters inside my head. And, to be honest, disappearing with my characters lets me ignore the other boring or annoying parts of travel.

Do you have any favorite airplane or airport travel stories? Funny stories? Horror stories?