Outline as Insurance -or- How I Saved My Own Skin

Thursday morning, I had a car accident.

The Good: my vehicle was the only one involved, and both my and my two year old who were in the car are okay.

The Not So Good: The accident was a rollover.  In a minivan.

I carry a Vaultz locking storage case as a purse, with my manuscript and all my supplemental notes inside.  In this case, I had a bunch of newly written material clipped to the front as well.  Almost all of the glass broke out of the van, so the storage case got smushed around in the mud and the rain.  Still, it did its job and the manuscript & other materials were safe.  Even the pages clipped on the front are legible, if not very pretty.

Here’s the thing–since the accident writing anything at all has been difficult.  Usually when I write it’s not so much like work, but more like plugging into a source and downloading.  Words come as fast as I can write them.

Now, not so much.  I’m slogging now–having a hard time coming up with words and making them sound right.  I don’t know if it’s because of the emotional upset (which honestly sounds kind of lame to me) or if it’s because I had a mild concussion (I’m having uncharacteristic trouble finding words when I speak, reading and doing math as well, so there may be something to that) but it is not much fun.  My memory is shot as well, my short-term memory anyway.  What sounds like a great idea now will be out of my head and gone in thirty seconds, as if it never existed at all.

This book is close to the end, but I wouldn’t be able to finish it in this state if my manuscript was all I had.

Fortunately for me, I had weeks ago composed a scene outline to the end of the book.  And in my notes I have summaries of those scenes, some very detailed with dialogue and lines of text that are meant to be included in the final scene.

So, instead of having to create all of this material from nothing–which I don’t think I could do right now, maybe in a few weeks–all I have to do is follow my map to the end.  I can focus on the writing itself, which is difficult enough right now.

So what’s my point here?  Just this–as you all know, stuff happens.  And when it does it almost never has the decency to phone ahead so you know it’s coming.  Contingency plans are a good thing.  Backup files, hardcopy printouts put somewhere safe…you never know when you’re going to need a safety net.  Most of the time it’s just extra caution that isn’t really needed in the end.

But when it is needed, you’ll be mighty thankful to have it.

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