Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Shoes and Travel Agendas

One more day before I'm off to New York. I found a new pair of sneakers yesterday that was not quite what I wanted but probably the best I could have found without spending an entire day. I do have to ask what the deal is with sneakers not having laces anymore. Only the serious running shoes and the Converse style shoes had laces. Everything else had elastic faux laces. Have we reached the point where we're too lazy to tie our shoes? The elastic makes it harder to get the shoes on without the socks getting all bunched up, it means you can't adjust how the shoes fit, and elastic stretches, so the shoes will likely be too loose for comfort soon. I took the shoes for a test run by walking to the post office this morning, and it was a good thing because one shoe rubbed a blister on my heel. One of my feet is a bit smaller, and that means the shoes rub up and down there. Fortunately, I already had a heel cushion insert from my last trip to New York when I had to limp into a drugstore to adjust a shoe, so I was able to fix it before I started doing the serious walking. On the down side, I already have a blister on my heel before I even leave the house.

Because my feet are a problem and I can get blisters while wearing custom-fitted pillows on my feet, I've learned to give new shoes a trial run before taking a trip that requires walking. I've also learned that while packing light is nice, if I'm going to be doing a lot of walking, I need to bring at least two pairs of shoes so that if one starts hurting, I can switch.

This is my first trip to New York in ages without any kind of externally imposed agenda. I'm not going to a conference and I don't have any meetings scheduled with anyone. That means I can go totally casual and it means I can do what I want, when I want to and change my plans as things come up. I do have a rough agenda of things I need to see and do, but I can change it on a whim without inconveniencing anyone else.

In a lot of respects, I'm ahead of where I was when I made this kind of trip before writing Enchanted, Inc. (my last non-agenda trip). Then, I had done basic development on my characters and had outlined my plot on the plane. I also knew the approximate area where the office would be, but knew nothing about that area, and had a general sense of where I wanted the other parts of the book to take place because it was an area where I really felt the "magic" when I was there. I didn't do any real research before the trip. I just went to those general areas and wandered.

This time, I know what the main plot is, even though I haven't outlined it. I have a good sense of who most of my main characters are, though most of them don't yet have names. I have a pretty good idea of the locations and neighborhoods that will be involved, and they're somewhat familiar. I've done a lot of research to look for things I need to check out in those areas.

The fun thing about going to New York is that it's an entirely different place depending on what you're doing and where you're going. My last trip was to a conference, and it was very Midtown -- Times Square hotel and my main excursion was to Grand Central for a tour. That's like an entirely different universe from the Upper West Side, where I'm going this time, and it's also different from the more downtown areas I've focused on in my other books.

And now I have to go pack and get my life together, since I have a 6:40 a.m. flight and I'll want to be ready to roll out of bed and head out the door.

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