Planning The Trip

The Muse and Betsy are sitting cross-legged in a meadow on the top of a mountain looking off into the distance. It’s foggy all around them, with only the occasional mountain peak showing through the gray clouds. There are no paths, no cities, no evidence of anyone other than themselves. In every direction Betsy looks, there is only fog and a mountain peak or two.

Betsy shifts on her bum and puts her hands deep into the grass so that she feels like she has something to hold onto.  Honestly, she would much rather swim in the deep lake she has in the center of her mind than sit on top of this mountain.  So why did the Muse bring her here?

Let’s see…


Why are we here? *Betsy looks at the Muse*

*Muse settles back on her palms* We’re here because you have places to go and we need to plan the trip.

Planning? *Betsy wrinkles her nose* I hate planning.

Don’t I know it. *Muse shakes her head* *Rainbows sparkle*

I mean I get where I’m going, don’t I?

Eventually. Sometimes.

I just dive right in and splash around for a while and then sooner or later I get to the other shore.

Except for the times when you go under and can’t find the other shore and have to head back the way you came. Or when you get to the shore and don’t know where to go next.

*Betsy pouts* I guess.

*Muse looks at her sternly* You need to change the way you’re doing things if this journey is going to be sustainable. If you want to write more books better and quicker, you need to do some planning.

*Betsy plucks a piece of grass and twirls it in her fingers* Like what?

*Muse straightens* Let’s focus on the current project first. The novella you’re writing for the newsletter. *gestures at the expanse around them* Where do you want to end up?

*Betsy frowns* *Shrugs* Um… I don’t know.

*Muse shakes her head* If you don’t know where you want to end up, you’ll get lost in the fog. You’re just going to fall off a cliff as soon as you start walking. *prods Betsy’s shoulder* Come on. Look around and tell me where.

Uh, over there I think. *Betsy points to a mountain that’s closer than some of the other peaks showing through the fog*. But I don’t know how I’m going to get there. The fog is too thick.

But you know where you’re going to start–that’s here–and you know where you want to end up–that’s there. That’s a beginning. Now, are you going to stop there or are you going to keep going?

*Betsy considers* I think I’d like to keep going for a while.

*Muse nods* Then where are you going after you go there? Where do you want to ultimately end up when it’s all said and done?

*Betsy frowns* Um, I think I want to end up there at the end. *Betsy points to another mountaintop that’s much further away than the first*

*Muse smiles* Excellent! Now, see? There is the mountain you want to end up at first, then the mountain you want to end up at last, and in between, there’s another mountain that’s on the way. That’s three. A trilogy.

*Betsy frowns* I can count.

Right. *Muse snorts delicately* You wouldn’t know it from your math scores in school. Anyway, now we know where you want to ultimately end up. So we work from that mountain back to the second, from the second to the first, and from the first back to here.

*Betsy gapes at her in horror* Are you kidding me? By the time I do all of that, I’m won’t want to take the darned trip in the first place!

*Muse sighs* We’re not going to do detailed planning beyond the first mountain, but you want to know where you’re ultimately heading so you’re pointing in the right direction. What if you start on a trail that leads the opposite way?

*Betsy twirls the leaf of grass* I guess. So you’re really sure it’s bad for me to just splash around until I get where I’m going?

*Muse frowns* Do you want to write more books before you’re ninety?

Yes. *Betsy fidgets* Are you sure the fog will lift once I start heading for the first mountain?

It usually does.  Step by step.

*Betsy nods* I’m not used to working this way. It’s all so…organized.

It will also let you write better and write faster. And if you write better and faster, you’ll get where you want to go on this Quest of yours. What do you have to lose by trying?

*Betsy looks down at the grass* I don’t want to fail.

*Muse pats her on the shoulder* You’ll never know if you don’t try.

*Betsy draws in a deep breath* Okay


To be continued…





  1. Man, this is so true for so many of us. Just jump in and start splashing around because the planning is too much of a pain in the neck. In my experience, the more planning you do, the faster, and more smoothly, the project will go. Sometimes it’s a hard lesson to learn, but patience does pay off and building a solid plan saves time in the long run.

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