There are times when I think Life has a sense of humour. It leads you off in one direction and then before you realise what has happened, it has turned you around and you find yourself somewhere else entirely.
That happened to me today. I had a plan, a perfectly simple plan, to go out for lunch with my husband and then shopping: not shopping in general, but to a very specific dress shop. John, who is very tolerant (he has to be, to put up with me) was prepared to endure half an hour or so in my dress shop and if I took longer, then there is a nice little coffee place just next door. The execution of the plan began well. We set off in good time and arrived at the restaurant to be seated before the lunchtime rush. Lunch was delicious, but I will not subject you to a mouthful by mouthful account. Everything seemed to be on course and then John popped to the loo. Now, I mention this not because it is of any note, but because at that point, left alone, I took out my mobile ‘phone to send a text to a friend. Unremarkable, you may think and I can only agree, except that the ‘phone in question has not been behaving for several weeks (actually, read months) and today it chose to be difficult at exactly that moment.
John returned to the table, noticed I had a problem and suggested it was time I bought a new one. At this point, Life intervened. It steered us out of the restaurant and into a nearby Phone Shop, where we spent some considerable time purchasing a new and very beautiful mobile, after which we found a tea shop and spent the rest of the afternoon there.
How did that happen? All that planning and for what?
Does this sound at all familiar to you? It does to me. This is frequently what happens when I write. I plan, I write intricate synopses and chapter outlines, all to no avail, because at some point, Life, or the Naughty Fairy, or my Left Brain, will decide that none of my strategies will be needed. My characters develop a will of their own and veer off in a direction for which I am unprepared. Irritatingly, it will often make for a better plot, too.
So I have decided that for this future novel, I will not conjure such elaborate schemes, but drift from my chosen beginning to the rough finale I have in mind, via one or two definite plot points and if, as seems likely, I deviate a little from the expected route, then so be it.
What’s that? The picture? Well, I wanted to include the photograph of a shopping centre to illustrate my day, but since that was not to be, then one of a deserted harbour seemed to be as appropriate as anything else and it does have the benefit of being prettier.