Writing with a GPS
I am a geocacher, so I rely heavily on my hand-held global positioning system receiver—my GPS—or I did until I got my smart phone. If you aren’t familiar with the term “geocacher,” let me explain what that it. A geocacher is someone who uses satellites to find hidden Tupperware containers full of McDonald’s happy meal toys. (It is actually much more than that, so I would like to invite you to visit www.geocaching.com for the full explanation.) But, I digress.
While geocaching several years ago, my GPS led me to within 100 feet of the cache, so I was eager to make the find. The only problem is that a GPS doesn’t take into account certain obstacles—in this case, a small cliff. By small, I mean somewhere between 25 and 30 feet high. All I had to do was start climbing. I left the path and pushed my way through the thorn bushes, then checked to see if there were enough handholds to get me to the top. Satisfied there were, I began to climb. About 10 feet up, I discovered that one of my handholds was not actually attached. The rock slipped from the edge and bounced off my ankle on its way to the ground. A smart man would have climbed back down so, of course, I continued to climb. I was almost to the top when it began to rain. I pulled myself up over the top, then looked around. It was a nice little plateau with plenty of hiding places. Unfortunately, the GPS said that there were more rocks to climb. I checked my ankle. There was a small cut and a little swelling, but I had gone to far to stop now. The second climb was short—no more than 10 feet—and had plenty handholds. I found the cache shortly thereafter.
I also found something else; a path opposite where I made my initial climb. I have often found while geocaching that the obvious path out is easier than the path I used (or made) in the first place. The trip back to the car would have been easy had my ankle not reached the size of a golf ball and I was soaked to the bone. Still, to me, it was worth it and I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.
Sometimes, it is easier to see the path to a complete story by starting at the end and working backwards. That is the way we hear about real life. The news will tell us, for example, about a murder. It is only afterwards that we begin to get the facts that led up to the victim’s death. When writing, it doesn’t hurt to ask yourself, “How in the world did I end up here?”
Just thought I would jot this down.