Writing on a plane

There is a deep sigh of satisfaction that follows the finishing of my manuscripts. When I click the “send” button and watch my document float off to the inbox of my agent, I can’t help but feel relief. All the ideas and countless retouches finally leave my screen. The only thing better, is hearing that two top publishing houses love my story! Buuuuuuut…. (there’s usually a but) they want me to make it longer. MUCH longer, which is all well and good, except when leaving on vacation in a few days.

Upon hearing the the news I was beyond excited the two publishing houses even read my manuscript. Two years ago I was paying to attend “one page sessions” where editors would read the first page of unsolicited manuscripts and give brief feedback. Now, not only was I not paying for feedback, I had experienced editors reading my entire manuscript and liking it! But I had work to do, lots of it. I promised my agent I would have a revised manuscript for her the day after returning from my getaway. In other words, my keyboard would be very chatty in the Caribbean. Or so I thought.

When I brought my laptop to the pool, I was armed with notes in one hand and a pina colada in the other. I figured there was nothing more inspiring than a blended beverage and some sun. Wrong! The laptop was generating so much heat I feared it would melt, and the glare from the screen made it hard to concentrate. No worries, I’d just go to Plan B.

Plan B consisted of finding a super cool looking notepad that I was sure would add to my creativity. With it,I tried my pina colada, pool, writing equation again. This is what it looked like:

The notepad stayed closed. Between the perspiration, rum, and tempting pool water, I surrendered to the sound of crashing waves. After, however, promising myself to write at night after everyone went to bed. Needless to say, that didn’t work either…. because I fell asleep with them.

The day I returned home, I sat in the airport gate, in a panic. Not because I hadn’t finished my work, although I hadn’t figured out exactly how I was going to complete it in time, but rather because of my fear of flying. Actually, the word “fear” is an understatement of the sentiment. I am absolutely, positively petrified of flying. I cry, hyperventilate, become glued to my seat, sweat, raise my blood pressure, you name it. There are several prerequisites that must be fulfilled in order for me to board the plane, and even after they are met, I am still unbearable. I’ve had flight attendants offer to give me oxygen masks, people stare, you get the picture. And no, it doesn’t get better the more I fly. In fact, it gets worse.

Anyhow, I clutched my bottle of prescription anxiety pills my doctor had suggested I take before I fly. But, after foolishly Googling the medication, I decided against it. My husband begged me to take the prescription, mainly because he wanted to relax on the plane and not supervise me. I just couldn’t do it. I wanted to be aware, even though everyone else wanted me incoherent.

I probably should have listened to my husband, because as soon as we took off the ride became bumpy. Needless to say, I don’t do well with turbulence. My husband suggested again that I take my medicine, but I was afraid of the affect it would have. I decided to do the only thing I knew could preoccupy my brain. The solution would be simple: the only way I could ride on a plane was to write on a plane.

I took out my neglected laptop with every intention to waste its battery and abuse its keyboard on the four hour flight home. Cramming has always been what I do best. It’s how I got through grammar school, college, and work. Strangely enough, the quality of my work has never suffered from its expedited process. Actually, it’s always been better. I figured this brain dump would be epic. I would write an awesome revision while simultaneously distracting myself from the potential of plummeting to my death from 37,000 feet in the air.

Of course, my plan of action couldn’t be that easy. As soon as I turned my computer on, it shut down. Dead battery. That’s when I began to freak out. Totally freak out, tears and all. So, out of desperation, I went old school. I took out my new notepad and went to work for four hours straight. I wrote on every piece of paper I could until my fingers cried. My writing was done, and I was home.

After I typed up my edits that night and pressed “send”, I let out my customary sigh of relief. Only this time, it was accompanied by a revelation. Writing saves me. It facilitates my sanity, alleviates my fears, and channels my creativity. There is no better solution to my anxiety. Especially when writing on a plane.