Calling it a Month – An Amazing Month

It’s the end of November, and once again, thanks to NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, for those who haven’t followed me long enough to have picked that up by all my blabbering about it), I – along with so many others –  have accomplished something extraordinary.

Each year, thousands of writers (we call ourselves WriMos) from all over the world  set out to achieve the impossible. Officially, the goal is to write a novel (defined as 50,000 words or more for the purposes of quantifying the unquantifiable) in a month. What we really do, whether we achieve that 50K, keep right on going to 100K or more, or only manage to squeeze out a few thousand, is so much more.

Fueled by ridiculously high amounts of caffeine and ridiculously low hours of sleep, we struggle to put what we so vividly see in our own minds into words that will someday let you see it too (that is, after we get around to editing, tearing apart, re-editing, shredding, and editing again).  From blank pages or blank screens, we create cities, worlds, or entire universes. We populate them with characters we hope to introduce you to someday, and hope you’ll love (or love to hate) them as much as we do.  Our characters fight us, sometimes. Then we fight back, or choose to follow where they lead.

It’s a journey, a discovery, an epic adventure.  We meet others along the way, other WriMos with similar challenges but often very different paths. Some are planners – outlining (or snowflaking) every detail meticulously in advance. Other are pantsers – starting the month with a blank page and heading wherever the wind (or the main character) takes them. This year a third category has been added, the plantsers – who do a little bit of both (this is the category I fell into this year).

These are the real heroes, gathering in coffee shops and libraries, or on-line forums and chat rooms, to challenge and encourage each other. We hunt for raptors and tease the chat-room bot. We stare at the table-hogs at Starbucks until they surrender the highly-sought-after power outlets to us. We laugh over silly, you-had-to-be-there jokes (like pirates and cat-allergy warnings). When life gets in the way, and it always does, we offer shoulders and listening ears.

Most importantly, we press each other forward towards the unreachable. And we reach it. We’re exhausted, our wrists hurt, and we’re pretty sure we’re writing absolute garbage at times, but one by one we make it, with the others cheering us on.

This year in particular, I’ve been blown away by the WriMos of our region. Time after time, I’ve watched this group come together, in person or on line, and offer friendship and support in beautiful and surprising ways.

I love writing. Always have and always will. But our little community of writers has taken what would have been a wild, fun ride and turned it into an incredible adventure.

One hundred and three thousand words, and I’m calling it a month.  And not just “a” month: An Amazing Month.




The Pen vs. the Keyboard

In July, I dove once more into the waters of novel writing with Camp NaNoWriMo. I knew before the month began that I would spend part of my writing time actually camping and didn’t feel like taking the risk that my laptop might be dropped in a river, bug-infested (by the actual creepy-crawly kind), or run out of power at a critical story point with miles to the nearest outlet. So, I decided I would buy myself a five-subject notebook and a bunch of pens and hand-write. This was not, perhaps, as well thought-out a decision as it should have been. I quickly learned there are several drawbacks to writing by hand.

The first, largeIMG_1214st, and most persistently annoying was simple. I had to count my words: every single one of them. I knew this going in, of course, but what I failed to anticipate was just how long it would take. I closed almost every writing session with at least 20-30 minutes of counting. It was surprisingly easy to lose count, and I frequently had to go back and start over, even after I began breaking it down to 100 words at a time. Counting became so daunting that there were a few sessions I didn’t do it. This was a huge mistake, because then I had to catch up with counting before I could start the next session. With much love to all my math-loving friends, counting is not exactly a creativity-inspiring activity (at least not for me). When I must count, I’m more than happy to have Word or Scrivener do it for me.

Aside from the counting thing, hand-writing is slower. Getting in a couple thousand words in an evening was almost impossible. Part of this may have had to do with the challenging subject matter, but when words are flowing well, typing is definitely faster.  I made my Camp NaNo word count goal, but only barely and with only 15 minutes to spare before the deadline.

On the other hand, I love the tactile, organic feel of pen against paper.  I feel more a part of my story without the electronic go-between of my laptop. My characters are closer and I am more directly involved in the story. Having a notebook full of written pages also gave me a more tangible sense of accomplishment. I could see how far I’d come (and how far I had to go). Even ink-stained hands felt like hard-won battle scars, which I had earned through my efforts.

IMG_1131The notebook and pen are also more flexible and reliably portable (provided you bring more than one pen). Typing pretty much requires sitting at a table, or least using my lap desk. With a notebook and pen, I can write almost anywhere: curled up in a chair or on the sofa, lying on my bed, in a porch swing, by a lake, or even at a table.

The final advantage of hand-writing, is that when I do finally type my project into my computer (as eventually I must for ease of editing, sharing, and perhaps one day submitting), it will automatically provide a first round of edits.

At this point I haven’t yet decided whether the pen or the keyboard will be my instrument of choice. There are definitely benefits and drawbacks to either method. From a practical standpoint, I know that for future NaNoWriMo efforts (or other word-count based projects), I will definitely be typing. From an enjoyment perspective, on the other hand, I much prefer the experience of hand-writing. I leave it to time to determine which will prevail in the end.

To my fellow authors out there, how do you prefer to do your writing? Is your computer or the latest technology your best friend, or do you prefer the time honored tradition of the pen?



Starting Summer Camp

On Tuesday I started my next novel, as part of Camp NaNoWriMo. In concept, Camp NaNo is similar in most ways to NaNoWriMo, which takes place in November. In execution, however, I am finding it to be a completely different experience, at least so far.

When I did NaNo in November, my story was mostly formed, being based on a dream I’d had. I’d signed up at the last minute and dove in with excitement. Words flowed freely, and I met my 50,000 word goal well in advance of the final day.

This time around, I’d known for at least a month or two that I was going to participate, and had thought out the plot and direction I wanted to go. Because of my subject matter, I knew from the start it would be more difficult, I did not realize just how difficult.

Despite having a fair idea of all the key plot points and characters, I had to force myself to sit down to write, and when I did I had a hard time even starting. In November, I hammered out over 10,000 words in the first three days. As of right now, at the end of day 5, I am just shy of 4,500 words. I’ve missed 2 days of writing already, and feel behind. I have some ground to make up if I’m to reach my goal. So far, each day, I’ve almost dreaded sitting down to write (to the point of even doing my least favorite chores in order to procrastinate), which is completely opposite of how I felt in November.

In some ways, my November novel was practice. I had sufficient notes to just take it and run with it. While it is a decent story, and I’m still toying with the idea of revising it to the point of being publishable and getting it out there, the point of writing it in November was just to write it. To write, and, at the end of the month, know that I could finish a novel-length work. That objective has been achieved.

But this time around, I’m actually trying to write a “keeper” and while I’ve always avoided deliberately trying to make my stories “mean” something, this one does. Or will, I hope. I went into it knowing I had something specific I wanted to tackle. To avoid spoilers, all I can say at this point is that this story is going to be deeply personal. It isn’t auto-biographical, by any stretch, but it is probably the closest to it I will ever get. As a result, writing this story means digging up and writing about (if indirectly) some tough stuff. Stuff I try not to dwell on, much less talk or write about. This makes it a challenge to even get myself to sit down and write at all, and while I’m writing I can’t let myself be engrossed in another world and someone else’s story, but have to be all wrapped up in my own. Part of the challenge of that is believing that my own story and experiences are worth telling, and interesting enough to be part of a novel.  All of this adds up to a little bit of dread at the prospect of writing each day.

Despite the struggles I’m having in getting started, I am looking forward to the process of writing. I can’t wait until I can get past this part, which is mostly exposition, and move on to the fun stuff. I am excited to see how the story will turn out.

Happy Writing!2014-Participant-Facebook-Cover

NaNoWriMo Week 4 Update: I’m a Winner

It’s official.  NaNoWriMo 2013 is over, and I’m a winner. So, now that at least phase 1 of this mission is accomplished, here are some final thoughts on my first year as a NaNoWriMo participant.

My winning word count is 53,704.   I do not call this a final word count, for the very simple reason that I’m not done with it yet.  The story arc is mostly complete, but there are some holes I have to go back and fill in.  I’m anxious to get started on the rewrite/edit so that I can finish it, but I am trying to force myself to follow lots of WriMo advice and give it a few weeks before I tackle that prospect.

November was a fantastic month, thanks to NaNo.  I haven’t spent so much dedicated time on my writing in an extremely long time, and it was very fulfilling.  I loved the opportunity to dive into a blank page and fill it up with the lives of people I would be interested to know.  My writing is as much a process of discovery as it is an act of creation.   There is a kind of detachment when I write, where the world and characters take form before me, even though it is my fingers that do the typing and supposedly my creativity that shapes them.

Though it was an awesome month, there was, as in everything, a bit of a downside.  In the first week, the intense, joyful glow of writing again relegated everything else to the shadows where they became insignificant and unnoticed.  In the weeks that followed, that brilliance came to accentuate the harsh, cold reality of the areas where the rest of my life is less than fulfilling.  I wish I could write full time and make a living at it.  That possibility lives in Someday-World.  But in Today-Land, my insecurity and fear rear their ugly heads and tell me that I am not good enough, or outgoing enough, or ambitious enough and that if I spent all my time on something I love, I would grow to hate it.

I never imagined, when embarking on this journey, that a title would be my greatest challenge.  I miss the youthful tales of bygone years that almost always started with a title.  On Saturday I gave my novel a quick read through with the purpose of finally giving it a name.  I could not truly claim my winner’s status if the novel didn’t have a name.  It took all day and considerable brain-work to finally settle on one that I’m not even sure I like.  I’m even hesitant to share it, because doing so makes it a little more… indelible.  At the same time, having the title has given me a focus.  I have a feeling that when it comes time to re-write (in a few weeks), the title will provide a thread to unify and solidify.  So here it is, in all its insubstantial glory:  To Discover the Sky

Here ends my tale of NaNoWriMo 2013.  What a ride!  I’m excited about writing again; even if nothing else comes of it, that is enough for me!


NaNoWriMo Week 3 Update: Random Thoughts

Three weeks down.  8 days to go.  My word count is currently 51,328, which means…  I have achieved the 50,000 word goal!!!  Yay!  I officially crossed the 50K mark on Wednesday.  However, this doesn’t mean I’m done.  I think I’m close.  I have to wrap up this scene I’ve been working on for days and it just keeps getting longer.  After that I may have some “pick up” chapters to write if I think of any holes that need filling.

I’m really excited to get the main story tied up so I can go back and read through what I’ve written.  Aside from a paragraph or page here and there to refresh my memory at the beginning of a writing session, I haven’t read through what I have.  NaNo really encourages its writers to just keep going no matter what and ignore our inner editors (for now).  This doesn’t leave much room for going back to read.  I think this has been good thing.  In some of my previous dabbles in writing, I find myself going back to read and getting bogged down in tweaking words and revisions.  Meanwhile the story gets neglected.  This time I’ve been able to keep going and for once I’m almost done!

This week I’ve come to realize I have created an unexpected set of challenges for myself.   My novel is a Sci-Fi story, as yet unnamed.  It is set in a distant future.  I have a very specific vision for the world of my novel, but that vision creates some fascinating challenges.  The first is that, visually, it isn’t a very interesting world.  It is monotonous and repetitive.  It is very hard, I’ve learned, to keep setting and description interesting when every single building is identical to the one next to it.  The other challenge is that though this is in many ways an “advanced” society, their world is stripped of much that makes our world interesting.  This makes descriptive language a challenge.  For example: can I, in good faith, compare a character’s movements to those of a hunting cat when no-one in that world even knows what a cat is?  I’ve repeatedly run into difficulty in descriptive language because my world limits the comparisons I can make.  I know some potentially-unusable comparisons slipped in there, but for now they’ll stay.  I’ll tackle them in editing (when I have some time to research the question).

 As I near the finish line, I’m getting paranoid about losing momentum.  I’m almost afraid to let a day go by without writing at least something, even though I know that I’m close enough to the end that losing one day will not jeopardize being able to finish.  This week has been rough outside of my writing, with a generally frustrating week, a sick dog, and a significant lack of sleep (thanks to the dog).  There have been a couple days when I did not feel like writing at all (today included, I’m even having trouble getting this blog post done).  But that fear of stagnation drove me to write anyway, and I tried to get at least a few hundred words each day.   

Overall, I am still loving the NaNo experience.  It is giving me a chance to stretch my creative & writing muscles.  Even if no one ever reads this work of mine (yes, I am in “that part” of the novel), I know that when I’m done (with the first draft) in 8 days, I will be proud of my effort and accomplishment.

Next week’s update will probably be on Saturday – the official ending day of NaNo.  I hope to have a title to share with you in what will be my last specifically NaNo post this year, and maybe a synopsis if I have time to craft one after I’m done with the writing portion.

For now, I must go.  I have to get in that few hundred words for today. 

NaNoWriMo Week 2 Update: Unpaved Surfaces Ahead

Disclaimer: This update is being written on copious amounts of caffeine and way too little sleep.  I can’t even guarantee it will be coherent by the time I hit “publish” much less that it will be free of typos or grammar errors. So please bear with me.  I’m really tired.

I’ve just completed week 2 of NaNoWriMo 2013.  After 14 full days, my word count is at 37,293.  That is a lot of words, “even for a man of science.”  (100 bonus points if you get that reference without looking it up). Okay, maybe in the grand scheme of things it isn’t that many words.  There are plenty of WriMo’s, as we seem to be called, who are far ahead of me in word counts.  But it feels like a lot of words and I’m well on my way to the 50,000 word goal of NaNo.  It is more than any other single “story” I’ve written, save one.  That one is a work in progress that got away from me in scope and just keeps growing.  I suspect, if I can ever rein it in, that one will probably end up at least a trilogy, if not a series.  But I digress.  I’m afraid there might be a lot of that in this post.  Did I mention I’m tired?

Week 2, as the NaNo site warns, has been more of a challenge.   Where week 1 was mostly the smooth ride of a decently-paved highway, week 2 was more like a construction zone.  Mostly, it was one of those construction zones where you’re still allowed to drive 60 mph, but only under the constant fear that any moment could send you over the line into the business end of a track excavator or the poor construction guy whose only defense is an orange plastic barrel with a blinky yellow light on top.  You know the zones I mean.  When you finally emerge from them you breathe a sigh of relief as you make a conscious effort to unbunch your shoulders from around your ears.  Week 2 was mostly like that.  But with a couple of detours into unpaved-rural-road-that-hasn’t-been-graded-in-years territory.

It started out last weekend with two marathon days of writing: the deceptive open freeway before you go around a wide bend and suddenly hit the slowdown.  “No problem,” I thought, as I breezed by 30,000 words.  My plot was more complete than anything I’ve written except a few short stories and one bit of Fanfic that will never, ever see the light of day (I hope).  My characters were beginning to seem like real people.  I was progressing steadily towards some key scenes.

On Monday I was still cruising along, wondering what all the NaNo fuss about week 2 was all about.  I completely missed the “Construction Ahead” and “Detour Ahead” signs.  I’m still convinced there was no “Pavement Ends” sign.  Then Tuesday happened.  I came around that carefree bend in the road to the red-tail lights and stacked cars of the construction-zone approach during rush hour.  I almost didn’t write anything at all, but told myself I had to write something!  I eked out 300 or so words.  After daily averages of well over 2000 and a weekend that totaled over 10,000 in two days, 300 was no epic tale of heroism.

I think I panicked.  I veered off the freeway onto that unpaved-rural-road-that-hasn’t-been-graded-in-years detour.  Through Wednesday and Thursday I rumbled down a washboard road of the type that makes your car rattle and thunk until you’re certain it’s going to fall apart, with pieces flying in every direction.  To make matters worse, it was dark.  Like 10pm in the winter dark, because for some reason I just couldn’t write earlier than that, despite valiant efforts.  So the writing started at 10pm and just kept going until 12:30 or later and I was falling asleep at my keyboard.

I couldn’t see or dodge the potholes (or should I say “plotholes”?). One evening as I was writing a relatively minor bit of backstory, I slammed full speed into a huge plothole.  I think I actually got whiplash from sitting back and saying to myself “Great, now I have to figure that out too.  How in the world am I going tackle that?”  I patched it over with a character thinking something along the lines of “We still don’t know how they did that….” and kept moving.  My brand-new, shiny, silver novel was now brown with splattered mud, but I was moving again, and at least that’s something.  Right?

I’m hoping that I see the on-ramp back on to the freeway ahead.  I have two whole days to do nothing but write, and maybe some housework.  Because, really, you can only let dishes and pet hair pile up so long before real life becomes some terrifying sci-fi horror story.  I have an absolutely huge “scene” to work on this weekend, which may account for some of my troubles this week.  I knew it was the next section of the story that I wanted to work on, but was also aware that it would take several consecutive hours that I just don’t have during the week, so I had to detour off into other, lesser chapters.

Once I start this section, I won’t be able to stop until it is done.   Unless I fail miserably, it should be the kind of writing that even keeps me on the edge of my seat as I write it.  I can’t wait to start.  Just-opened, freshly-paved freeway with no traffic (and no state troopers) in sight.  Or so I hope.

NaNoWriMo – bring on week three!

NaNoWriMo Week 1 Update: They might be Vampires

I’ve just completed week one of my first NaNoWriMo.  So far it has been fantastic.  I’ve had one of the best weeks I’ve had in a long time.  I’m getting a lot of writing done, and loving every minute of it.  I am not sure about the quality of what I’ve written, though I have had a few sections that caused me to say in amazement, “I wrote that?”  That’s usually a good sign.  After 7 full days, my word count is at 19,069.  I’m ahead of schedule, and glad to have the cushion in case something unexpected happens, like maybe 8 consecutive hours of sleep.  But one concern has been dawning in my mind.

I think my characters might be vampires.

I’m not writing them to be vampires.  They don’t have pointy teeth used to pierce the tender skin of their unsuspecting victims.  They don’t drink blood.  They don’t sleep in coffins.  They don’t turn into bats.  They don’t have supernatural powers (yet?).  And they certainly don’t sparkle in the sunlight, although I’m not entirely sure how I know this because there is precious little sunlight in their world.  In that world, the world of their story, they are decidedly not vampires.

However, in my world, they are exhibiting some very vampire-like behavior.

They only come out at night.  Every day this week, I came home from work ready to dive right in, in the hopes that I might get my words in and still manage to catch the elusive 8-hours of sleep mentioned above.  But no matter how hard I try, there is just no finding them until all has gone dark and still.  And then they sneak up on me and attack me with unexpected plot or character points in the dark.

They are mysteriously alluring, but deceitful and secretive.  They entice me with promises of excitement and adventure, but then corner me in a long stretch of potentially boring dialogue and dare me to make it interesting. All the while, they keep the whole truth of their story veiled in mystery and maddeningly out of reach.  When I get close to the heart of their story, they block me cruelly.  When I try to forge ahead and write through the block, they transform every thought into mindless drivel.

They distract me.  Their hold on me begins to cause me to neglect my housework: dishes in the sink go unwashed, the carpets go unvacuumed, and my animals are not getting enough attention.  Strider has mats in his beard that will probably require either a chainsaw or a professional to remove.  Luna will tell you I forget to feed her and she’s starving.  That at least will be a lie.  But she will try to tell you and you will find her cute meows and soft nuzzles compelling.  I find myself day dreaming of them when I’m supposed to be requesting an exhibit or submitting a lease request.  They consume my every waking thought.

Finally, they are turning me into a vampire.  With each passing day under their thrall, I see more and more of the night and start to resist the day.  When the light rises in the morning, all I want to do is pull the covers over my head and hide from it.  Then again, that may have more to do with the aforementioned lack of 8-hours than any significant transformation on my part.

And now night has fallen.  The darkness is closing in and I am called back to the story.

Happy writing!

Writing Again: Why I’ve Been Smiling (almost) All Day

As I start to draft this post (Yep, I admit it. I’m drafting it at work.), I have been smiling pretty much constantly all morning.  This is fairly significant, as I usually don’t find myself smiling very much at work.  My day job isn’t terrible, but at the end of the day it is neither mentally stimulating nor very fulfilling.  It is challenging in its way, but not necessarily in the right way for me.  I am truly grateful to be employed at all, and overall it is a decent job at a good company with a decent wage.  So don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining about my work.

In fact, this post isn’t about work.  It is about the fact that I’m smiling at work.

This forced me to start asking myself why.  If I want to replicate this feeling more often, I need to figure out what sparked it.  Exactly a week ago today I was in such an incredibly lousy mood that I wanted to throw and/or break things over really dumb stuff (for example, a broken hanger).  This smiling thing is much preferable.  So, again, why?

I’m writing again.

When I see those 3 little words sitting there on my screen, emphasized by the white space around them, they don’t seem so significant.  But they’re kinda huge.


This blog was the start of it.  I haven’t posted much, but I’ve enjoyed easing myself into it.  Testing the waters.  Warming up the atrophying writer-muscles I’ve been neglecting.  Hoping to get back into writing because it has always been in me.  Maybe eventually get back to stories and the two or three BIG IDEAS I’ve been picking away at over the years.

Then I saw the NaNoWriMo post on my WordPress Reader page.  I’d heard distant murmurs of past NaNo’s from a Facebook friend for a couple of years.  I was a little curious, but at the time I was not mentally in a place where I could expend any thought or energy on figuring out what it was, much less actually participate.  But last Wednesday, I followed the link.  I read about it and said “maybe,” fully expecting it would drop out of my head again.  It didn’t.  I mused on it a little during the day on Thursday, the day before it was supposed to start, and still thought “maybe.”  I even went to bed Thursday night, still thinking “maybe.”  Then a still small voice said “Do.  Or do not.  There is no maybe!” Okay, that’s not really what it said.  It may have been more like “Enough with the maybe.  Just do it!”  I actually got out of bed, went to the other room to get my laptop, and signed up at about 11:30 Thursday night.  I barely had any idea what I was doing.  I had no clue what I was going to write.  But it was done.

I spent most of Friday incredibly distracted by trying to figure out what I was going to write.   I got pretty mad when I realized I had to run an errand after work and couldn’t go straight home and dive in, even though I still had not decided what I was going to write.  Ultimately, the errand was probably a good thing because in the 2 hours of driving the errand took, I had time to remember a crazy dream I’d once taken notes on and decide that perhaps it would be appropriate fodder for the “Just Write It” philosophy of NaNoWriMo.   If I could find my notes.

The notes were unearthed with relative ease, and by mid-evening Friday I had donned my comfies, carefully positioned my caffeinated beverage of choice on the table, started my “I Fight for the Users” iPod playlist (10 easy bonus points for you if you can guess what’s on that playlist!) and settled into the corner of my couch with my laptop.  I also had a notebook and 3 blue pens in easy reach, just in case the laptop’s electromagnetic field caused interference with the call of my muse, as it sometimes does.

It was with some trepidation that I booted up my little chunk of technology.  It had been so long since I’d started anything new.  A blank white page of Microsoft Word (or even actual paper) can be pretty intimidating, you know.  What if I had no words?  What if my characters refused to behave?  What if they were boring?  What if there was no plot?  What if there was a plot, but it was a real stinker?  WHAT IF I’M DELUDING MYSELF AND CAN’T WRITE A COHERENT SENTENCE TO SAVE MY LIFE?

{Deep Breath}

That’s the beauty of NaNoWriMo.  None of that matters.  Just write!  So I did.  The notes and the earlier 2 hours of drive time to ponder helped a lot.  In the 3rd (not my favorite) Anne of Green Gables movie, someone advises her to start with the end.  I had formulated a prologue, so I did that first, and then wrote the Epilogue.  Since then I’ve been working from either end.

I spent the better part (the best part!) of the weekend writing.  This was probably the best weekend I’ve had in a long time!  I wrote late night on the couch, with my eyes getting bleary but caffeine still doing its job.   I typed stretched out in the morning sunlight streaming across my bed, after the animals woke me up so very early.  I even worked at the dining table for a while, but not for long because tables and desks often stifle my creativity.  Most of the time, I was in my PJs.  I changed to the “That still only counts as one!” playlist (20 bonus points for that one) for a while.  Later, I tuned out a few episodes of Firefly in the background.

It was an awesome weekend: Over 10,000 words of awesome weekend.  Note I didn’t say the words were awesome.  Most of them are probably crap.  I don’t care.  I’m writing again!

I begin to wonder again if it is possible that writing is my “calling.”  I’ve wondered this on and off for years.  What I can say with certainty is that when I’m writing, when I’m submerged in a new world and trying to tell their story, everything feels right with my world.  I’m more myself than at any other time. 

I love the excited feeling I’ve had ever since clicking the “sign up” button on the NaNoWriMo website.  I love being snuck up on by unexpected plot points, or realizing something to add that will just make a scene “click.”  I love meeting my characters, especially the moment I realize who they are, despite the rush of fear that I can’t adequately tell their story.  I’m looking forward to the rest of this month, discovering the tale, and learning if I’m able to complete the telling.

So, over the next few weeks, if you see me at my desk, or in my car, or at the store, and I’m smiling for no apparent reason, chances are good I’m not really there at all. Because, like right now, the story calls…