Monday, February 15, 2010

Learning via GPS

What I'm reading: Lady Knight, by Blair Bancroft

Workshop report – overall, I'm pleased. There were between 20 and 25 people, which is an excellent turnout considering it was Valentine's Day weekend, a holiday weekend, and Speed Week. My GPS was about 92.7% reliable. My Google Map directions didn't give me the same route, so I made the decision to listen to my GPS lady instead of having to refer to a written printout. Actually, using that GPS is a lot like the way I plot. It tells you how far you have to go to reach the next reference point, even when the directions for that point are "remain on the current road." The GPS knows where you're supposed to end up, but it doesn't give you the entire route all at once (unless you go to a different screen, but I don't usually do that, especially at highway speeds).

I did get one 'wrong' instruction near the end of the route. I dutifully remained on the current road, even though the Google Map had said to exit. As soon as I passed that exit, I got the dreaded "recalculating route" and was directed to exit and get back on going the other direction and backtrack to the point where I'd been told to keep going.

After the presentation, I headed out to the home of my first writing mentor, Sandra McDonald for a last chance to have some face to face fun time. Again, I trusted the GPS, which did seem to agree with my Google map this time. What neither said, however, was that the street where I was supposed to make a left turn was one of those that has a different name on either side. So I was looking to my right, and the street name wasn't the one I was supposed to turn on. As I went through the intersection, I noticed the correct name to the left. However, the GPS had me circle the block, and I arrived only a minute or two after the original estimated arrival time.

Often, in writing, you might think you're going the right way, but something isn't working. Don't be afraid to backtrack and find the point where things drifted off track.

My PowerPoint worked out fairly well—the remote was persnickety, so the slides often seemed to pop up of their own accord, but it didn't matter to the group. I also had a flip chart, plus my boards and sticky notes. Considering I was the second speaker, with a business meeting in between, I'm gratified that they were willing to spend so much of a Saturday in a library meeting room.

The group was responsive (even without the chocolate rewards for contributing), and they seemed to enjoy it, based on how many made a point of coming up to thank me, and tell me how glad they were to discover that there was nothing "wrong" about writing before you know what's going to happen. And in a follow-up email from the coordinator, she told me one attendee had reported stopping at the office supply store on her way home to pick up sticky notes!

Tomorrow is guest day, and I'm hosting author Marie Tuhart. Her topic: procrastination. Something that's going to catch up to me as we have to get on with our move. Garage Sale Saturday, so we have a LOT to sort through! I'm hoping that the Olympics will distract me while I work.

Like this post? Please share.


Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I think that's a great turnout, Terry! And it's always nice when the group is responsive and contributes, too.

Glad the Power Point worked out so well. I think presentations are always so much more interesting with multi-media..and it sounds like you had some great props to go along with your talk.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Terry Odell said...

Thanks, Elizabeth. Yeah, I had LOTS of props! More than I needed, but I'd rather have things I don't use than need something and have to wing it.

Lynnette Hallberg said...

I really like this comparison, and it soooo works for me. I'm getting ready to do some plotting and will use this. And I see you're reading Blair Bancroft's Lady Knight. Isn't she awesome?
Thanks for interesting posts and field trips!
Lynnette Hallberg

Wynter Daniels said...

Glad the presentation went well. I am a plotter, but it always helps to be flexible when the route needs to shift a bit. I like your analogy!

Debra St. John said...

Congrats on a successful workshop!

Great comparison with the GPS. Athough I have to admit, I'm more of a pantster than a plotter, and I don't own a GPS. Hmn? Maybe I should invest in one, if only to make my writing go a little more smoothly!

Jemi Fraser said...

It's always unnerving to rely on technology - I seem to be waiting for it to not work rather than worrying about what I'm doing half the time. Glad it all worked out so well :)

Mason Canyon said...

Sounds like a good turnout for the presentation with everything else that was going on. I've never tried a GPS. I can just see myself having an argument with it if it gave me a direction I thought was wrong. :) Good luck with the garage sale. Those are always fun to visit. Wish I lived nearby.

Mary Ricksen said...

GPS what's that. I have a map you can borrow. LOL!
Glad you had a great presentation!

Terry Odell said...

Lynette - thanks, and Blair is in my RWA chapter. She's a treasure.

Wynter - I'm impressed I was using an analogy! Makes me look smart. :-)

Debra - I don't plot much, which is why the small steps works for me.

Jemi - I was fortunate to be second on the program, so the first speaker got to deal with all the tech issues of getting the projector and computer to talk to each other.

Mason - for a chapter meeting, I think that was a good turnout. I mutter at my GPS lady when she wants me to go a way other than my preferred route to the Interstate.

Mary - I had a map too. But it doesn't warn me about upcoming turns, or tell me which lane to be in for on ramps and exits. And I think I'd have been a disaster on wheels if I'd tried reading a map at 80 MPH.

Carol Kilgore said...

I'm happy your presentation was a success. And don't you just hate the smugness in the "Recalculating" voice? It's a good thing I don't use her when I write!

Terry Odell said...

Carol, if I had my druthers, my GPS would have a male voice with an Aussie accent. But my version doesn't have those options. Can't complain; it was a gift

Lara Dien said...

Of course, there was the time a friend was using her GPS to pick me up at the airport in Providence--she'd been there a million times; she was really just checking the device's accuracy for large destinations. Found it took her to the 'deliveries' entrance...note to self: when you are CLEARLY heading the wrong direction, no matter what the GPS-or plot-says, do something else!