I’m a little sore.

Mostly it’s from being behind the wheel for the better part of twelve hours, but some of that time was occupied with attempting to get my car out of a ditch. A perfect storm of lake-effect snow, high winds and nearly bald tires caused Vera to lose her grip on the road. Vera, for the uninitiated, is my 2004 Honda Civic. We eventually got winched out and were able to complete our journey to Kitchener, Ontario. But it was still a harrowing experience.

My father-in-law gave me a touch of advice: “Next time you wipe out, look to where you want to go, your brain will follow you.”

As I was trying to get Vera out of the ditch, I was wondering if there was something to learn from the experience, other than keeping your car well-repaired and being mindful of weather conditions while you travel. During the drive north I replayed the incident, not only looking for mistakes I might’ve made but also for lessons to learn and convey. This little snippet, however, sums it up nicely.

I’ve always been better at visualizing the endings and climaxes of stories than writing the middle. It took me some time to realize that such visualizations need not be ends in and of themselves. The means are just as important, and the path from where you begin to that ending need not necessarily be straight. In fact, it probably won’t be. Characters are going to change and an event’s flow might slide unexpectantly even as you write it.

Keep your eyes on where you want to go and you’ll get through it.