Many, many moons ago, there was a kids’ television show called “Captain Scotty” that was on in the mornings before school. I was a big Captain Scotty fan. He was an astronaut, very handsome, and he showed good cartoons that I could watch while eating cereal. I wanted to be on the show so badly, but it was apparently filmed somewhere out of state. I had to settle for getting an official Captain Scotty Space Cadet badge with my name on it. I still have that – somewhere buried in my office. If I find it, I’ll put the picture up to show.
In my teens, space cadet took on an entirely different meaning. During the 1970s and 1980s, it wasn’t a flattering term at all. Being that I was blonde, I got called a space cadet a lot. Most of the time I deserved the designation. I was easily distracted and prone to day dreaming. I usually had so much going on in my head that I lost track of space and time completely. Not so bad when you’re sitting in Mr. Mossbacker’s geometry class, not so good when you’re driving home alone late at night.
I’m better these days about not being so spacey. On occasion I get distracted or side tracked and forget to finish a sentence, which drives my oldest daughter completely nuts (everyone else just laughs). But when I’m writing is when I get really spacey. Then I completely disappear into another world. A recent example includes sitting down to work on revisions at 8:00 in the evening, and looking up to discover that it’s 2:30 in the morning and I have work the next day. If I were to plan to spend 6 1/2 hours doing something, it’s unlikely I could sit still long enough to complete the task. My ability to get lost like that, however, is my space cadet training at work.
Another recent example happened the weekend before last. I was working on a new novel, hoping to polish several pages to submit to my critique group next month. The few pages became 10, 10 became 20, and 20 became 6 chapters. Time had been suspended for me because I was so lost in the alternate universe I created for my characters. This new world is realistic, but these characters are different people whom I am enjoying getting to know.
In a way, it’s sort of like meeting a new best friend. You call up to talk for a few minutes on the phone, and the next thing you know you’ve been at it for hours and your parents are yelling at you to go to bed. You don’t realize that it’s past midnight because you’ve been having so much fun learning about this new person.
The good news is, I make a lot of progress fast when I get lost like this. The bad news is, it really cuts into my sleep which I pay for the next day. For all it’s negative connotations, being a space cadet has its rewards, too. Days later, when I went back to look at the chapters I’d written, I didn’t find a lot of revision to be done. Spelling errors – yes, but the characters and the story structure feel real and compelling. I’m sure my critique group will have additional insights, because they are really good with things like that.
I’ll find that badge and scan it in so I can post the picture. I’m very proud of my Space Cadet status. Oh, look, chocolate – and bright shiny stuff – and . . .