Traveling is one of those things I am both very good at — I do it a lot and I haven’t gotten stranded or detained by authorities yet — and something I am very bad at. To be frank, despite the cool opportunities and experiences, it stresses me the hell out.
One of the problems with travel for me is that there are so many steps. For example, I recently had to get from Pretoria to Las Vegas. Which was really getting from Pretoria to the Johannesburg airport and going through immigration; then flying to Heathrow, retrieving my luggage, and going through immigration; before hopping a bus to Gatwick, rechecking my bags and going through immigration; before arriving in Las Vegas and going through immigration again before retrieving my bags.
This was all further complicated by my not having a hotel in Las Vegas when I left Pretoria, never having done the bus from Heathrow to Gatwick, and bonus, not having a working mobile phone until I hit the U.S! I also knew I was landing in Vegas without a plane ticket back to New York and had decided to try to juggle a dinner in L.A. into that picture.
In short — too much stuff! A lot of people got a lot of really freaked out emails from me along that route. Thank god for the free wi-fi in Heathrow. Everyone wrote back telling me just to do the next thing on the list and not worry about the whole chain. Except my partner, Patty; she also told me I was good and acknowledged my pain.
Pursuing an ambition — or writing a book — is a lot like all of this. You have 1,000 things to do, and they are all interconnected. You know where you’re supposed to end up, but aren’t 100% sure of how you’ll get there and you don’t always have the level of control you want. Also, you’re totally freaked out.
But all you have to do is the next tiny thing on the list. And then the next, and then the next.
Along the way, it helps to have sensible people you can freak out to. And sympathetic people who can validate your emotional state. Sometimes, you have to reorder or delay stuff (like that dinner in L.A. — that was not in the available flight cards ultimately; or like a scene that Erin and I first thought was in Starling, later cut from Doves and now is the perfectly positioned near opener of the third book in the Love in Los Angeles series).
So today’s Do the thing! is all about breaking stuff into little pieces (in some ways it always is). What can we help you chop up or give you a place to freak out about? Because to do the thing, you’ve got to do the things.