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I have developed an unnatural attachment to a personal aid…no, not that kind, you naughty-minded reader. This is one that one can use in public. I’m talking about my GPS.

I first bought my little Garmin when I moved from Little Rock to Springfield. It paid for itself within the first 20 minutes, in lost-woman-driving-around gasoline and frustration-relief alone. I would program it every once in awhile over familiar territory just to hear the voice.

From there the relationship grew. Once I got familiar with the lay of the land, GPS would give me routes not to my liking. I would stubbornly stick to my decision, listening to hear the voice tell me with increasing (and imagined) pique, “Recalculating.”

In Denver, I have discovered my love affair all over again. I am directionally challenged. And that is putting it mildly. The attachment is more necessary here: The city is bigger, many of the streets are not at north-south plumb, and the outlying neighborhoods would be impossible to find otherwise.

And therein lies the rub.

For reasons not accessible to my mortal reasoning, the little device has begun taking a long time to find its satellites. In the presence of tall buildings, it suffers minor nervous breakdowns. By the time I manage to get a signal, I am impossibly committed to the wrong direction. Sometimes it tells me to go places that I haven’t programmed. I think that it is being stubborn and sadistic. I feel that it doesn’t love me any more.

When these glitches happen, I fall back on my iPhone. But smartphone isn’t smart enough to have a voice; looking for directions on busy streets is an open invitation to rear-end collisions. Smartphone isn’t as sympathetic to dyslexics…trying to find where you are and which direction you’re heading is often more than difficult.

I have cheated on you, GPS. And for that, I am heartily sorry.

I am not a helpless woman. But I am helpless without my electronic companion. In fact, I couldn’t imagine traveling anywhere without it. GPS is the new black. “Mother’s Little Helper” has a whole new definition.

Treat me well, little buddy.

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Woke to the sound of thunder. Went out and stood in the rain, like someone who had never seen the stuff (sadly true.) The grey of the sky is beautiful in its rarity; a sky that is, for a while at least, not a dare.

The day is a metaphor for what I face on the page, that desire to look at a bigger sky; the realization that I can. My own writer-advice has been tough to follow. Look at the bigger theme of the chapter, I tell this blogspace. Use the overall import/impact of the chapter to drive you. Write to the idea, not the individual word.

Follow your own advice, Lynn.

When the ground upon which one walks is uneven, one tends to fix on the space that will receive the next footstep—to stay steady, to keep one’s balance. The page is like life, that way. Losing the greater meaning, the direction, is too sadly easy when one stands on uneven life-ground. And stepping back for a better perspective: impossible.

The character…it’s me. The plot, my life. The perspective, mine to find. For now, there is a small, welcome joy in this grey day. A day different than the one before, different than the one that will come after. The sky as a metaphor for my life.

Don’t know about you. Don’t know whether this is the Condition of All Writers, or just the Condition of Me…but moments of doubt have been leaving messages, lately, on my mental answering machine.

These are the moments of whaaaa’? Moments of what-am-I-doing? Moments of uncertainty. And they are not my friends.

These moments are useful, sometimes. Educational. And wretched. They co-exist with moments of wide-eyed delight and cool-eyed assessment. They make us better writers. And they make us miserable.

“Have confidence in your talent,” came the advice from a cherished mentor, “and keep moving.”

Easy to say. Less easy to do, sometimes.

One wants to be confident. One wants to recognize that what one feels today, is not what one will feel tomorrow. Or even in ten minutes. One wonders how it is that other folks manage that strength that lets them proceed with unquestioned confidence; how others recover from the daily setbacks that are the built-ins of a writer’s life. How does one deal with the “might be” when the “is” is not enough?

Whence comes the strength to cope?

So here are the questions of the day: How do you deal with the writerly downs of yourself? How do you recover?

Let me hear from you.

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