Sunday 14th May 2017

I never sleep the night before a flight.
There’s a worry that somehow I’ll oversleep and miss it, that I need to sacrifice that time to make sure I’ve packed everything.
At the time of writing, I still have items strewn across my living room.  I still worry I’m going to forget my laptop or some vital charging cable or device that will render my holiday ruined.  Of course, I know this not to be true, but still, the worry is real.
And so, since the time I used to fly to the US for Toy Fair, I stay up, doing last minute planning, trying to ensure that I’ve got everything I need, and everything for my backup plan as well, aware that at any minute there’s some vital component I’ll realise I’ve forgotten.
This trip is going to be fun.  This is the trip where I’ll return unafraid to use the term storm chaser, in the same way ‘aspiring’ writers don’t like to use the term writer.  I’ll get to hang out with some awesome friends and drive across the US.
It’s going to be amazing.
And yet, it doesn’t seem real that in a few short hours I’ll be heading to the airport, still worrying about that one vital thing I’ll have forgotten.
Trying to do both The Climb as well as the daily vlog is going to tax me and I suspect that as the week goes on and I get tired, things may slip.  But I’m going to try my darndest, even if I am battling sleep deprivation.
Of course, I’m already knackered.  I woke earlyish this morning to drive a couple of hours to go swordfighting.  I think I had 7 fights and fought pretty well.  Long before the end I was dripping in sweat to such an extent I kept having to stop as it was running into my eyes.
I went to the pub for lunch and then came home via Tesco for a travel lock.  By the time I got home it was close to 5pm.
I edited yesterday’s vlog and got that online and then caught up on Doctor Who which I’ve not watched since episode 1 of this season.
And then I started packing things into the bags, whilst still worrying about that ‘thing’ (whatever it may be) that I’m going to forget.
I still have today’s vlog to do after writing this draft of The Climb.  I then edit this, schedule it, and by then I’ll probably be ready to go out the door.
There’s been little tasks as well, like emptying the bin.  The house isn’t going to be empty while I’m away but still, I don’t want to come back to find the bins overflowing and stinking.  I’ve also put the dishwasher on, so everything is nice and clean.
I’ve debated putting Microsoft Word on my Macbook so I could go over the edits, but I’ve made the decision that I won’t get the time.  Instead I’m going to work in Scrivener on the short story for the anthology on the plane as well as take the points from the cover letter and come up with a plan of attack for them.
For example, I’ve had some comments about the start and how I could make it tighter.  I have a vague idea of what I need to do, but I need to consider all the jigsaw pieces and come up with a plan.  The plan isn’t a solution, just areas I need to think about.  I’ll either daydream on the road or think in my sleep (I can do that) so that when I come back I should have something in the way of a solution on how I want to tackle each of the comments.
Personally, I think having these issues processing in my brain almost like background tasks on a computer is probably the best way to tackle them.  I find when plotting a novel, I’m not good at sitting down and just coming up with solutions.  Instead I need to let them marinade for a little while.
But, all things considered, you do have to love it when your agent totally gets that you have a horse as your equivalent of the batmobile and tells you to push it even further.
Already, I have one eye on the future.  I know that as soon as I get back home, work on the edits will start in earnest.   And given that I’ll come back fat, there’s some serious diet work going on in June.
June is going to be a tough month so I’ll also be using my trip as a way to psyche myself up for that.
But I know that I’ll not return home the same person as the one who went out.  These storm chasing trips are amazing  and you can help but grow from the experience.  Four years ago I was lodging in a single room, my writing career seemingly in tatters, my leg swollen with a massive hole in the shin.
It was around this time that I decided that I’d not be a victim to my illness and would instead fight.  I’m not sure when I decided that the following year (2014) would be a year of adventure, a year where I would do things on my bucket list.  I think it was very late in 2013.
I remember the feeling in late January 2014 when I paid my deposit to go storm chasing.  I was so unbelievably excited and shocked that I was actually doing it.  I’d just started swordfighting as well and my life felt so very different to the year before.
My first Tornado experience was being sideswiped by a mile-wide EF-2 in Dixie Alley at night.  Even Reed Timmer said that was hardcore.  I got to hang out with him round his house and watch tornado DVDs after spending years watching him on Tornado Chasers and Storm Chasers.
My second year chasing, saw us lose our windows to hail in the Elmer Tornado.  I got to see a tornado up close (from about a mile away) and it just blew my mind.
And then last year, we got really close.  We jumped out of the vans in front of these things.
But all these times I was just a passenger.  They were amazing experiences, each more intense than the year before.  Heck, I know seasoned storm chasers who list my shared experiences as some of the most crazy of their own careers.
This year might be more subdued and less crazy but I’ve graduated.  No longer am I just a passenger.  I’m part of a chase team.  I’m a bone fide storm chaser, and you know…  I couldn’t be happier.
I wish I could go back in time sometimes, just like Doctor Who, and visit 12 year old me.  I wish I could tell him how everything panned out, that in 30 years or so, he’d be chasing storms in the American MidWest, he’d be travelling to international competitions to fight with swords, and that he’d be working with his agent on his books.
12 year old me would think current me the most badass person he’d ever met.  And if he knew that’s where he would end up, he’d happily suffer all the hardships and setbacks to get here.  I want to tell him that everything is going to be OK, that I have an incredible life, the product of sacrifice and unbelievable hard work, and that I wouldn’t swap it for the world.
If you want to follow more of my journey, then be sure to check me on my social channels.  Likewise, if you’d like me to expand on any point mentioned above, please say so in the comments.

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