It’s time for packing again, this time for my trip to Switzerland. While I always keep the “essentials” in a suitcase, each trip, just like each new piece of writing, has its own particular needs. There’s always something special to add or something irrelevant to take away.
First of all, I need to decide which of the array of bags, suitcases and backpacks I have will be the best fit for this trip. I think it’s rather like that stage of writing when I choose a genre — should the topic be fiction or nonfiction, fantasy or realistic, for young or old? Sometimes it’s hard to decide, like this trip. Since I have to change airlines in Montreal, taking one checked bag means putting my faith in Air Canada’s ability to get it there the same time I do, so I can check in to Swiss Air with it. No matter how I look at it, it’s all a big gamble, isn’t it?
And then, of course, I have to decide what to put in whichever bag I choose. I don’t know a single one of the people on this trip — there’ll be a 100 travel writers from around the world. How casual will the evenings actually be? I don’t want to be overdressed, or for that matter, under-dressed! The daytime hiking part is easy, as predictable as the main character I know so well in the sequel to Longhorns and Outlaws that I’m writing. There, it’s all about adventure and finding that perfect mix between edge-of-the-chair excitement and more reflective character development.
I always travel on the basic premise that even if my packing turns out to have been a bit — inadequate — that I can probably buy whatever I’m missing or a reasonable facsimile. How else would I have ended up with hiking boots from Cabela’s, new hats from Louisiana, Texas, Wisconsin (yes, until I bought my tie-died, back to the ’70s hat, I pretty much never remembered to take one), curly hair frizz-control products from all over the world, and well, you get the picture.
It turns out, I guess, when you think about it, that I treat my writing exactly the same way. There, I get a second, third, or tenth run at editing if I haven’t included everything it needs…