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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Airplane of Death

by Vivienne Lorret

“Write what you know” is a fairly standard motto for most writers. This is still true for those of us who write historical, futuristic, paranormals, etc. While we may not have a hunky, brooding neighbor who is a duke, time-traveler, or shape-shifter to use as our muse, we write what we know in the different personalities we’ve encountered and the situations we’ve experienced. Which brings me to my most recent encounter with an airplane.

Last month, I flew from Chicago O’Hare to the RWA conference in San Antonio inside an unexpectedly small plane. My nerves were already on high alert since this was going to be my very first RWA conference. Couple that with the fact that I hadn’t flown since I was sixteen years old (and I won’t bother to mention how long ago that was), I was barely holding it together. Then, I entered the packed plane.

My guess was that there were only about eighty seats and each one of them filled. The center aisle wasn’t as wide as my carry-on, so I turned my wrist and held it sideways in front of me as I walked to the back. The air was humid and already smelled like Joy-John-row at a hometown carnival. When I settled in, I noticed that the previous seat occupant left me a used, wadded-up tissue poking out in front of the safety guideline pamphlet. I exhaled a slow breath, closed my eyes and pretended that my seatmate was Gerard Butler.



An hour into the flight, we hit thunderstorms and bobbled around in the plane like bells inside a cat’s toy, clutching the armrests for dear life. The tang of fear and sweat combined with eau de Joy-John in a nausea-inducing blend. During those forty minutes, I calculated the time it would take my hands to brush aside the used tissue and safety pamphlet in order to locate the airsick bag.

Thankfully, I never had to test that knowledge. We landed safely, albeit a bit worse for wear. As far as experiences went, I now had a vivid one for future use.

As many of you know, I write Regency historical romance. Airplanes are…well… frowned upon in Regencies.



Therefore, I’m not likely to have any airplanes in those stories. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t be surprised if one of my characters has a similar experience in a carriage or hay cart. :)

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3 comments:

Judith Ashley said...

Yes, I've been on one of those planes before and a couple even smaller. I'm sure the jostling in carriages and riding inside on the mail coach, etc. were similar experiences because back then, bathing wasn't as prevalent as it usually is today. In hindsight are you glad you made the trip? Hopefully the return flight was smoother.

Vivienne Lorret said...

Hahaha! Yes, I'm sure the personal hygiene issues made traveling in carriages similar to my experience. :)

In hindsight, I am definitely glad I made the trip. I met so many amazing people. And the bonus was a smooth, relaxing return flight. I had plenty to read and a warm cup of chamomile tea. It was heaven.

Sarah Raplee said...

Hi Vivienne,
YOu did a great job illustrating the fact that "Write what you know" isa broad concept. Creative writers will apply their own experiences to fictional characters' experiences in novel ways.

That's half the fun of writing!