In the past years, security issues have made flying home for the holidays more and more of a hassle. Crazy X-ray machines that leave nothing to the imagination. Pat-downs that make you wonder if you should call them in the morning. And who knows what lies in the future of air travel. This Thanksgiving is supposed to be the worst travel season to date and of course, the more intense the security requirements, the more travelers like to complain about it.
In light of all this insanity, I've come up with a method to help keep me just a little more... sane. I've decided to make an art form out of getting through airport security as efficiently as I can. As soon as I show my ID at the front of the line, I concentrate on getting all my stuff through the scanner and walking through to the other side as fast as possible. No sense holding up the line, after all.
While waiting in line, I survey my carry-on situation so I know exactly how many plastic bins I need to grab. Of course, before I leave home I always make sure to wear shoes that slip on and off easily. I put my photo ID in my pocket for quick access and always hold onto my boarding pass because they might need to see it more than once. Oh, and I make sure my quart-size plastic baggie of liquid stuff is out and ready to go so I'm not digging through my carry-on once the race starts.
While other travelers moan and groan about the long lines, I'm glad that I have that extra time to get ready. By the time it's my turn, I zip right through. This past flight I made my best time, under 17 seconds from ID check to all-done on the other side. Some people might say I'm making light of a serious situation by turning security check into a race for my personal best time, but in the end, it keeps me distracted and prevents me from getting cranky. And no one can complain that I'm the person holding up the line at security check.
"But what does this have to do with writing?" you might be wondering.
A lot of writers end up griping about the process because it seems to be so gosh-darn unfair, but what we really should do is make it into a game. Have a little fun. Make a joke or two. After all, that's what many very successful authors did when they were getting started and it sure seemed to work for them. Take Stephen King, for instance: he stabbed his rejection letters through a peg on his wall until the stack got so heavy the peg broke.
We need to recognize which aspects of the process we can control and which ones we cannot. When I travel, I try to maximize how efficiently I perform all the steps that I can control, and I've found that the same can be true with my writing. I can't control if an agent likes my work, but I can make my query and submission as strong as possible. I can't make a literary magazine accept my short story but I can edit the piece until it's as good as I can make it. I can't guarantee that I'll get published but I can write every day, and that's half the battle right there.
So whether you're waiting in line or jumping through hoops, try to remember to take things a little less seriously and have some fun. And it never hurts to smile because sometimes those security folks will even smile back.