Paranoid City Girl Goes Camping With Family and Is Attacked…By Another Realization About Writing

Desert Camping

Surviving a day sans laptop without suffering permanent psychological damage (that I’m aware of) is a miraculous feat.  That I accomplished it during the Freshly Pressed frenzy is even more impressive.  The fact that I did it in the relatively unprotected outdoors (no dead-bolted, reinforced doors, locked windows and security system) is simply amazing.

Yeah, I know there are places in the world where people sleep with windows wide open and doors unlocked.  Go ahead.  Brag about it.  Sadly, the big city isn’t one of those places.  Home invasions make it into evening news casts regularly. 

Now, I have the ability to think rationally (I just choose not to.)  Statistically, I know that my chances of experiencing a home invasion are relatively small when I factor in the number attacks vs. the population.  I am also aware that I am most likely to get injured because of a car accident (I have a long commute to work, and…have you seen the way these people drive???)

Okay, back to the camping story.  We had trouble getting the camping trailer hitched to our truck.  The lever wouldn’t slide down into the locked position.  I just knew this was a sign that we should stay home, in our secure house.  But, after forty-five minutes of my husband muttering things that I cannot repeat, and three calls to the place that sold us the trailer, we had the solution:  it involved forcing the locking mechanism down with a hammer and a block of wood.  Who knew?

It worked, and we were on our way.  I was a little apprehensive about being outside…in the dark all night…vulnerable to whatever would be out there.  But if we didn’t go, we would have ended up with two disappointed, cranky children.  Dealing with my trepidation was definitely the more bearable option.

Boys built house for bugs so they'd leave us alone

After dark, my imagination started messing with me.  I heard things that no one else could hear.  As I curled up in my sleeping bag, I pined for my laptop.  I just wanted a little, tiny peek at the Freshly Pressed status.  I’m pretty sure this is a warning flare for a deeper issue, but I choose to ignore those pesky signs until I end up with a beast of a problem.  Hmmm…this could be one of the reasons why I never did anything with that Psychology degree.  Just a hunch.

My mind needed something to do, I decided.  I retrieved my book and a little tap light and slinked down into my sleeping bag to continue my read of The Oath (by Frank Peretti.)  Of course, I was at the point where the main character was stalking the dragon and he felt the wind pick up, tree tops swaying as the dragon swooshed over him.  At the same time, the canvas on our trailer whipped from a gust of wind.  Freaked out, I woke my husband up.

“Did you hear that?”  Another gust of wind flapped the trailer sides.

“Yeah, wind.”

“Are you sure?”

“What do you think it is?”

Like I could tell him it could be the dragon.  “Nothing, I guess.”

Then I started worrying about who could be out there.  Nearby campers were quiet.  No more hollering children- or the parents yelling at them.  No more crackling campfires either.

“This canvas isn’t very thick,” I whispered.  “Someone could easily slash through it and get in here.”

“Yeah.  I suppose they could.”

“Do you think they would?”

“Why would they?”

“I don’t know.  To kill us, take our money and sell our children on the black market.”

Pause.  “You think they would sell?”

I got the hint:  I was being ridiculous and he wanted to sleep.

The vulnerability I felt that night while camping was familiar.  It wasn’t until I started writing this post that the thought hit (attacked) me:  it’s the same feeling I get when I write something outside of my (locked up tight) comfort zone.  It’s the exposed feeling I had when I wrote “Legend of the Scorpion” for my son and the exhilaration when he didn’t hate it.  It’s the uneasiness I felt when I wrote Kharma’s Way because I wasn’t sure if I could pull off the religious character (and his struggles to stay true)…and the pleasure that replaced the doubt when the story turned out okay (in my opinion.) 

Get Out There And Write!

It’s the same feeling I have as I think about the genre change I’m looking at for my next writing adventure.  Will the story be any good?  I really don’t know.  But making a new path without a road map is exhilarating; the adrenaline fuels my writing self.  And I’d rather get this rush firmly planted in my desk chair than say, bungee jumping 😉

Do you venture off the beaten writing path?  I’d love to hear about your adventures!


33 thoughts on “Paranoid City Girl Goes Camping With Family and Is Attacked…By Another Realization About Writing

  1. dorcas January 19, 2011 / 5:00 AM

    I think I know that feeling. I’m new to the ‘take blogging seriously’ scene. I have a handful of subscribers and every time I write a post.. I feel lots of things that I cannot name 🙂

    • jannatwrites January 19, 2011 / 3:26 PM

      I think you can relate, dorcas. Posting does make you a bit vulnerable because you never know how people will react to what you have to say 🙂

  2. Aligaeta January 19, 2011 / 6:17 AM

    I know you’ve told me “Write, write, write” just go without editing. My comfort zone is about 350 words. A blog. In college those 5 page papers got easier, 10 pages were a major milestone. So now, the book being the goal is: getting out of my comfort zone. Subject:Length, Length=Terror.
    Good topic.

    • jannatwrites January 19, 2011 / 3:28 PM

      A book is just a bunch of “350 words.” If you think if it in smaller chunks, I bet you’ll get through it without realizing the distance you’ve covered. Terror? Ha! It’s more like a thrilling amusement park ride 🙂

  3. nrhatch January 19, 2011 / 6:55 AM

    Fun post.

    Our minds love to play tricks on us . . . causing us to fear the unknown and stay in our “safe little boxes” ~ only, of course, there is no such thing as “safe.”

    When we embrace the uncertainty, we reclaim our freedom.


    • jannatwrites January 19, 2011 / 3:29 PM

      That’s another trick our minds play – our minds make us THINK there is a safe place. Thanks for sharing your wise words, Nancy!

  4. momsomniac January 19, 2011 / 9:52 AM

    Woo hoo! Now, I know what I am going to read on my breaks at work. I haven’t had time to look around your blog so I am happy you posted this link.

    Awhile back, I reworked this:
    I wrote the original version of this WAY back in highschool. Since most of my work would be suitable for folks from ages 9 or 11 to age 15 or so, I suppose this was off the path. But since I was a teen when I originally wrote it, it didn’t feel awkward. Or maybe it’s just that it was really, really short. Who knows.

    I was thrilled when several of the people who read it asked me “Are you okay?” – as if it in ANY way related to MY life. Since I have NEVER been a middle aged man and I have never killed anyone, I figured I’d done well. All of my writing is a bit “moody” though, so maybe a real venture would be something funny. I’m not sureI could pull that one off though.

    • jannatwrites January 19, 2011 / 3:34 PM

      You’re right – it was a dark story. Though I’m not sure why your friends would wonder about your mental state? I like how the ending was left open, but you know how it ends. Thanks for sharing the link so I could check out your work, momsomniac!

      • momsomniac January 19, 2011 / 3:55 PM

        Heh – don’t you know that EVERYTHING we write is secretly autobiographical? I have also lived on another plant. And you solve muders, right?

        I have links to my published stories so far on my blog (all 3 of ’em) – if you ever want to drop back by. So far it’s all been non-paying ‘zines, but it still feels good.

        • jannatwrites January 19, 2011 / 4:44 PM

          I’ll have to check out the stories later this week. I haven’t had a chance to look around your site yet, but I HAD to comment on the shooting with the sandwich post because I could relate to it so much 🙂

    • Tim Weaver January 24, 2011 / 9:13 PM

      Nice story. Yeah, it could go any number of ways. In my mind, the character went through all of them. It was awesome. 🙂

  5. 2blu2btru January 19, 2011 / 11:43 AM

    I’m actually venturing off as we speak…er, type. I am working on my NaNoWriMo attempt, which is a Chick Lit story. I’ve never written Chick Lit before. It’s a lot more fun to read, honestly. I’m playing with some genre conventions while keeping others. We’ll see how it goes.

    I also ventured off of my beaten writing path for my first short story for a class. I wrote about something I’d never experienced on a whim (and a google search); sex/love addiction…in women. I wrote about a program and everything, and I’ve never been to a meeting. Never knew what the twelve steps were, either. It turned out really well.

    Good luck with your new venture! 🙂

    • jannatwrites January 19, 2011 / 3:37 PM

      Ooh, you sould like a chemist in a science experiment. I hope you come up with something you are pleased with. I’ve read your blog quite a bit, so my eyebrows raised a bit (a lot) with the story on sex/love addiction. Certainly unexpected! I learned something new about 2blu2btru today 🙂

  6. Carol Ann Hoel January 19, 2011 / 3:43 PM

    Lions, tigers, and bears! Writing a comment is fearsome. I have written a comment, read it several times and thought it was fine, clicked the post button, read it again, and thought I’d lost my mind. Lions, tigers, and bears! (Can tell I just watched The Wizard of Oz?) I’m sure you will press past the goblins and conquer the Land of New. Blessings to you, Janna…

    • jannatwrites January 19, 2011 / 4:42 PM

      Cute comment, Carol. I usually find that I have a typo or forgot a key word after I submit a comment, which makes me look really good 🙂

      Thanks for your support – I appreciate it!

  7. Cities of the Mind January 19, 2011 / 4:55 PM

    Glad you weren’t eaten by a dragon. Although that would be a cool way to go.

    • jannatwrites January 19, 2011 / 8:33 PM

      In theory, yes…but in this story, that would have been the worst way to go!

  8. Vanessa Condez January 20, 2011 / 3:38 AM

    well, you know I do, I just started my second novel without having finished my first one, for god’s sake!

    Great non-fiction piece Janna (yes, I got you name now, finally). I would only remove this one bit: “I got the hint: I was being ridiculous and he wanted to sleep.” When you explain the joke, it spoils the fun 😉

    See yaaaaaa

    • jannatwrites January 20, 2011 / 3:22 PM

      Yes, I would say you are able to venture out of your comfort zone! Thanks for sharing your opinion/editorial comment…it’s always nice to hear what others think because I can’t see flaws through all the details 😉

  9. Tori Nelson January 20, 2011 / 5:34 AM

    “Like I could tell him it could be the dragon.”
    Haha! This might be the exact reason my fiance never takes us camping!
    I have felt that fear/excitement in writing, too. Any time you’ve pushed yourself to do something different, there is a fear that it won’t work and a thrill when it does!
    Great post!

    • jannatwrites January 20, 2011 / 3:25 PM

      Thanks, Tori! As long as the fear is followed by the thrill of success, it’s not so bad. The miserable failures are harder to swallow – but those failures are excellent teachers 😉

  10. J. P. Cabit January 20, 2011 / 9:57 AM

    Thanks for this peek into your camping trip. 🙂 It was amusing to say the least.

    My adventure in writing was Banager’s Lights. I am an inherent risk-taker…I’m the kind of person who crosses the road in heavy traffic with no crosswalk because “Everyone else is doing it.” (And not in the stupid way…in the, if-they’ve-been-doing-it-for-years-it-must-be-safe way) I’m the kind of person who will jump off a ladder because “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” I’m the kind of person who wanders into a dark alley because the MC inside of me wants desperately to get out and live an adventure novel. So for me, Banager’s Lights was just a shot in the dark.

    A shot in the dark that failed.

    As many of my readers may have noticed, Banager’s Lights failed miserably. It just ended, with Azen, Rarawsh and their third Sherasi guide booking it away from a gun-firing Mr. Antagonist. We never found out what happened to Mr. Komenk, or the Merivathers, or if Peka ever made her way into the story. Perhaps I’ll start it up again, but my lyfe makes this difficult.

    Maybe I’m being too transparent about the whole thing, but I believe that it’s good to be somewhat transparent. Why hide my failures as a writer?

    Or maybe it’s just so easy because this is on the computer?

    Is this too long for a comment? Is this a blog post all of its own? I’m stopping here. 🙂

    • jannatwrites January 20, 2011 / 3:31 PM

      At least you tried something new. It does take courage to admit that something didn’t work. We all have stories that didn’t shine for one reason or another, but we usually only show our best stuff to the world (and use the failures as practice.)

      I’ve got plenty of real estate for comments, but if you want a dedicated post, I can set that up for you! Thanks for sharing your writing experience with venturing out of your comfort zone 🙂

      • J. P. Cabit January 20, 2011 / 7:35 PM

        Hey, I’m always open for a guest-post exchange if you ever feel the need. 🙂

        • jannatwrites January 20, 2011 / 9:08 PM

          I’ve only done one guest, but I’d be up for going another round. If you’ve got an idea of topics you’d like, send me an email. Otherwise, I just come up with random stuff.

          (I’ve been thinking of your comment earlier, you could really do a great a post about what you learned from failure, or how it’s affected your writing since then.)

  11. deehsarsiavo January 20, 2011 / 11:07 AM

    I like how you’re analogizing the camping trip and the trepidation of being in a new place to how you feel when you’re writing; it adds a personality of sorts to the whole post =) seems like the camping trip was fun too! Good luck on the new experiments you’ve got planned out, we’ll keep an eye out for em! =)


    • jannatwrites January 20, 2011 / 3:34 PM

      Thank you so much for your compliment, deehsariavo. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Like with writing (I can eventually relax outside my comfort zone), I expect the next camping trip will be easier as well. I’m still in the thinking stages, but look forward to writing something!

  12. momsomniac January 20, 2011 / 12:40 PM

    Hi! Me again. I hope I’m not being creepy.

    This post stuck in my head. My husband doesn’t like to go camping – which surprised me. He was born in Colorado, for Pete’s sake. It’s a requirement! So…now I am wondering if maybe…it’s fear of dragons. : )

    p.s. May I link to your blog & write a post about it? I am greatly enjoying what I’ve read so far.

    • jannatwrites January 20, 2011 / 3:36 PM

      You’re hilarious…not creepy. Now, if you show up at my house – that’s creepy 🙂

      You know, I lived in CO for a bit as a child…if I remember correctly, they did have dragons. Lots of dragons. I can understand his fear!

      I would be honored to have you link to my blog and write about it. And I’m glad you like what you’ve seen so far. Oh, and a big THANK YOU for your support!

  13. Tim Weaver January 24, 2011 / 9:18 PM

    While it’s no longer as comfortable as it used to be, I’ve never really been scared camping (well, except for that one time I almost ran across a bear with her cubs, on a narrow trail, in a tight valley…that wouldn’t have ended well for one of us. I am still unsure who, though). Thus, I can’t use that as my metaphor for writing outside my comfort zone.

    I’ll have to choose something else.

    And, really, they don’t sell the kids on the black market anymore…they steal them as just given them away….kids are commodities, ya know? 🙂

  14. jannatwrites January 24, 2011 / 9:33 PM

    I wouldn’t mind the cubs too much, but the mama bear is scary! (and she wouldn’t be far away from the cubs.)

    So, there’s no black market anymore? Not even in other countries? Hmmm….good to know 😉

    (Before CPS decides to contact me, I’d better clarify that I’m only kidding.)

  15. Rick Shaw January 25, 2011 / 11:20 AM

    I work in the city (trying to curb those home invasions you talk about), but I live in the suburbs. My doors are always locked, my windows are only open when I’m at home although I do leave them open if I’m taking a nap and sometimes during the summer once we’ve gone to bed. I have bars on the windows that lead into my basement. My wife has put pretty plants in there with an intricate system of mirrors so that they get plenty of sunlight even though they are technically subterranian.
    When I’m out of the house my wife will use the air conditioners and keeps the door deadbolted. Which is probably a good thing, since anyone who broke in would have their hands full with her. A little box of black belt fury in a home that uses the architect’s term ‘Spear Closet’ literally.
    And yet she goes camping every year with her family, without and issue. Here in the suburbs she needs a deadbolt and only really feels safe when I’m at home and have my pistol strapped on (I still say she’s more dangeorus unarmed than I am armed, though).
    But in the wilderness all she needs is a tent flap that won’t zip and a sleeping bag to snuggle into. Bugs, bears, wolves, muderous trapeeze artists swinging through the trees…nothing bothers her.
    As long as she gets to look at the stars before she goes to bed. She’s a city girl and she always feels much better when she can look at the stars.
    ~Rick Shaw

    • jannatwrites January 25, 2011 / 8:05 PM

      Wow…your wife sounds scary/fun! I think it’s cool when a crook picks the wrong person to mess with. Several months ago, an eighty-something-year-old woman fought back when a guy broke into her house. I’d love to hear him explain to the dudes in jail how the old woman whooped him!

      Murderous trapeze artists? Where on earth does she go camping? You were just checking to see if I read entire comments, right?

      Good for you for working to curb home invasions. We should always stay alert.

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