Backseat Navigation, Eyes Closed

You can only imagine where you’ll end up.

Words written in novel so far: 14,696

Miles run yesterday: 4.5

Days of school until summer: 2 1/2

I can’t lie and say I never got bored as a child, mostly because my mom would shout to the world, “LIAR!”

But even with all of the free time in the summer, I remember being bored less during those long, lazy days.

Some years, I was in daycare, roller skating to Kool & The Gang and The Beatles. I was all about the disco ball but unfortunately never mastered skating backwards with proficiency.

On hot afternoons, we sat under trees on the playground and French-braided each other’s hair.

When I got a little older, I owned time. Time had no value or boundaries, and I rolled around in it, let it spill over me in an abundance I would never know again.

I love the pool; we used to spend hours there and never got bored. I love to read; just lying on my bed with nothing to do but read The Once and Future King was my idea of heaven.

But one of my favorite things was when my friend and I would say, “We’re bored! What can we do?” and her mom, who looked like a Skipper doll and often burst out into “It’s My Party and I’ll Cry if I Want To,” would say, “Get in the car.”

She had a little white car (make and model unknown; see why here), and we would stretch out in the hatchback section and close our eyes.

“Here we go!” she would sing out.

My friend and I would pay attention to each turn: left on Emory, right on Holt, right into the high school parking lot… no, maybe that was the next right, into the church. Dangit!

Once you got off track, it was impossible to salvage the Navigation Game. But we tried. Oh boy, did we try.

Summer is here again. I want those fun memories for my kids. And I also want to write my novel and see its progress… I want happy memories of this summer for me, too.

As a fiction writer, they say there are two types of writers: the Outliners and the Pantsers (as in Seat of Your Pants).

I’m a Pantser for the most part. I have an idea of where the plot is going, but I’m always sad when I see that something bad has to happen to one of my beloved characters.

I’m in the backseat, eyes closed, visualizing the left on Emory, right on Holt, driving, driving… but we didn’t turn at the high school like I thought we might. Oh? We’re still driving? Wow. All the way to Lower Roswell?

With writing and with summer break, the most gratifying part is that there are still surprises around every corner.

This summer, there will be the pool, there will be lazy afternoons of reading, but if my kids give me a precious few hours of writing time each week, maybe one day, I’ll say, “Get in the car.”

They will climb in the minivan, close their eyes and get ready to play the Navigation Game.

This time, only I will know where we end up.


24 thoughts on “Backseat Navigation, Eyes Closed

  1. Running in Mommyland says:

    Fantastic! I have memories of how I spent my summers, too, and I want them for my kids! We’ll be heading north in a few weeks and they’ll attend the same day camp that I went to and they’ll learn to swim with my oldest friends kids. Summer is the best!

    In regard to the novel… yes!!!! I think about that blog you posted a while ago about how you figured you’d post less in the summer and also focus on the book. I’ve been thinking about that a lot. Blogging is fun, but the book in my head needs to be written (I’m a pantser, too) and it won’t happen unless I find the time!

    You are totally right. Summer and writing have great things just around the corner.

    It’s so exciting!

    • annewoodman says:

      That’s so cool that your kids will get to experience the same camp! You’ll have to post about the similarities and differences between then and now; I always wonder how much kid-related things have to change with the times.

      And best wishes with writing the book. It’s a process you’ll never regret.

  2. What a great idea. I have never played the navigation game. However, my family used to create road rally clues for the cub and boy scout troops in the area. We would drive around and come up with all sorts of wierd clues to guide the participants through the countryside. Mom would write them down as Dad did the driving. Putting the rally together was one of the highlights of the summer for us.

  3. crubin says:

    I don’t have too many memories of my childhood summers. I’m not sure if this is sad or just a reflection of my poor memory. Some events remain vivid in my mind, but everything else is a blur. But I enjoy your posts where you drum up your past, because I feel nostalgia through you. 🙂

  4. Melissa says:

    Confession time…Sometimes, when Tracy is driving and I have nothing to do, I play the navigation game. I close my eyes and try to determine where we are and how close we are to our destination. Sometimes I’m on and others not so much. For some reason, this post resonates with me. I don’t know if it’s the sense of nostalgia that feels particularly strong right now or if it’s that I have a tendency to go through life as a panster, but I really enjoyed this.

    • annewoodman says:

      Ha! That’s cool that you still do that! I’m not sure if I’d get car sick…

      Yes, it’s a big time for nostalgia. And so much of what we remember informs who we are today.

  5. jmmcdowell says:

    Summers — softball games, tennis club, horesebacking riding, hanging out with friends, and lots of reading, too. There are some great memories from those younger years. Thank heaven there have been lots of good times since then, too! 🙂

    Books must come before blogs. I think a few of us are chanting that mantra right now. Especially us pantsers. 🙂

    • annewoodman says:

      Horseback riding? That sounds like you had lots of fun! And yes, there have been many great summers long after the thrill of daycare was past. ; )

      Yes, books before blogs. Books before blogs. So true.

  6. robincoyle says:

    When one of my characters died, I cried. Silly. I was the one that made her die. I get sad when bad things happen to my characters too.

  7. 4amWriter says:

    I love summer memories. And I wish my kids could have the same amount of freedom that my sister and I had, but times are different. We do what we can with what we have though.

    Yup, the time to write in the summer will be severely limited. I have contemplated bribing my kids for a couple of hours each day. We’ll see what transpires…;)

    I really don’t like seeing my characters in pain either. But I find it easy to write them into trouble if I know they will come out of it okay. It’s the trouble that I can’t undo that is the hardest for me to write (like killing off a character).

    • annewoodman says:

      Yes, please let me know how much time you manage to squeeze out of your kids… maybe I can use it as leverage with mine. ; )

      Yes, killing off a character is the worst.

  8. Stephanie says:

    Summer is so DIFFERENT when you’re a child. I still love summer, but I miss that lost feeling of time standing still.

    I thought that I was a pantser, but I’m starting to see the value in outlining. It makes revising so much easier!

  9. I want to know if the 5th grade graduation has happened?
    I too have many happy memories of summers by the pool or reading! Growing up in Arizona there was a lot of pool time – what a relaxing way to spend an afternoon 🙂

    • annewoodman says:

      Yes, graduation has happened. I may just write about that today! You would be proud of me–I held it together.

      • good girl!
        I’m taking a big step: William leaves Monday evening for NYC, and I was invited to visit a friend in Hot Springs Sunday-Tuesday – she moved over a year ago and has been wanting me to visit – so I’m going, and will not see him ‘off’.

      • annewoodman says:

        Your posts and comments about parenting have helped me realize that it never ends… we still carry them around with us, even when they’re “grown.”

        Hopefully, he’ll be back for a visit soon. Or, maybe you can visit NYC? Fun!

      • “parenthood as being cut wide open and walking around open to the elements; you are completely laid bare and vulnerable.”
        Absolutely true. You never realize, when you’re young and in love, staring into each other’s eyes thinking about making a new life, that what will happen is your heart will be cut out and placed in that new container. Like a seed that ceases to be a seed and becomes the tree, the origin exists within us somewhere but is forever changed and absorbed into a new life.
        What totally astounded me is that when I saw Brett born I realized immediately that my heart now walks the world in both his mother and in him to the same degree. There’s so much joy and love and yet it rips a little hole in you, another little hole that you don’t really want to heal because the healing would somehow separate you from them and you don’t want that separation. So you learn to just walk around with yet another hole inside you that might tear open at any moment – but to seal that hole would be to hide a part of you away and you would become less. You’d be safer, perhaps, but you would be less

      • annewoodman says:

        Oh, the being vulnerable part… so difficult.

  10. OH – and yes, I’m totally going to get to NYC to visit. Hubs looked online – he travels to NYC a couple times a year – and his hotel is about 1/2 mile from the new job. All I need to do is get a flight! YAY!

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