My mother, in the last days of her life, became concerned with how she would look laid out at the funeral home. It was macabre but understandable. She had nothing else to look forward to, so being a life-long planner and arranger, she turned to doing what she could to prepare for the inevitable. There was a shopping trip to buy a suit, so she wouldn't be wearing something anyone had seen her in before. Yes, it was weird. Even weirder when the sales clerk told her, "This suit will last you for years." Well, not in the way one might think.

I inherited my mother's need to prepare for the next event, although I haven't yet started planning my funeral. I think that visualizing the future is worthwhile, despite the fact that we can't predict everything. Studies show that those who visualize a positive outcome have better experiences than those who dwell on the negative.

As a writer, then, you have to imagine what it's going to be like to be published, maybe even be famous. It may happen, it may not, but we have to be prepared for it. Imagine what questions you'll be asked and how you will answer them. I've mentioned here before that I was surprised at how many people want to know how long it takes to write a book. I'd never thought about it, and I had to make an educated guess, blending the thinking, the writing, the re-writing, etc. into an "about" figure that seems to satisfy them. Another question I get asked a lot is who inspired me to write. This one was asked for the first time on camera, and I stuttered like a bashful teenager, trying to come up with something truthful, aware that there was no one answer. Now that I've thought about it, I wish I'd said, "Everyone who's any good, and everyone who's really bad" (It's true: Sometimes I think, "I could do better than this guy," and other times I think ,"I'm going to try to be as good as this guy.")

Writers tell of people who stop at their homes to visit or people who stop them in airports to tell them what they liked or didn't about the latest book. Cool to be noticed, maybe, but inconvenient at times. I was at a signing last week where the other author was accosted by a wanna-be writer who stayed at his table for two hours and fifteen minutes. Think he lost any sales during that time? Maybe he should have thought ahead about what can be done to gently move such folks on their way. I've seen authors tactfully remove themselves from fans at cons while others don't seem able to get away or, worse, offend fans with a brusque comment as they brush past. Thinking ahead might have saved them from being thought self-important and rude.

Two reasons to think ahead, then. First to see if this author thing is what you really want. If you only like to sit in a chair and write, you really don't want to be published, since that requires a public presence with all the good and bad that engenders. Second, to facilitate the future. By considering what might happen, we "practice" internally handling what arises and therefore deal with it more effectively when it does happen.

This comes to my mind as I prepare for Authorfest. I'll be on a panel, so what questions might come up there? I"ll be meeting lots of authors and fans, so how do I make a good impression? I'll be selling books, so what's the best way to handle that? Think. Plan. I haven't a clue how I want to look in my coffin, but I know how I want to be remembered in Schaumburg, IL.

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