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Fear of Flying

I have a fear of flying. When I was a retail buyer I traveled regularly, and I wrote my first book during flights to and from market week. The distraction helped but it was a temporary solution; I wanted to write so instead of dreading flights, I anticipated them. (Okay, there was a little dread. I'm not going to lie.)

Last year one of my friends and I were brainstorming ideas to promote my various series. I said I was limited to events that I could drive to because of the expense of travel. Fast forward about six months: that friend became a flight attendant and, remembering that conversation, asked if I'd like to be his companion. "Companion Status" meant I could take sixteen one-way trips in a year. Meaning I no longer had expenses as an excuse not to travel for events. The only problem was, as mentioned, I have a fear of flying.

It would take a really dense person not to see that what my friend offered me was much bigger than sixteen one-way flights around the country. He offered me a chance to meet readers who didn't even know I existed. A chance to support indie bookstores with signings. He was eliminating the single biggest hurdle in the path of me promoting my books in person by giving me a chance to get out of my own way. And since I prefer not to think of myself as a really dense person, I said yes.

My year started in mid-April. It's mid-October now and I've taken almost all of my sixteen flights. The flights are stand-by, and I often don't end up on the flight I expected to take. A remarkably high number of flights connect through Las Vegas, so it's good that I am not a gambler! I am usually one of the last five people on the plane, almost always get a middle seat, and have spent not one but two nights in airports because no stand-by seats were available on my desired flights. (Side note: the body does not bounce back after an all-nighter as easily as it did when I was in college.) This year I've been to Phoenix, Allentown, Sacramento, Bethesda, Orlando, Pittsburgh, Houston, Austin, New Orleans, Oakland, San Francisco, and Seattle--not to mention countless connecting cities along the way--averaging more than a trip a month.

Have I gotten over my fear of flying? No. But I've learned to go with the flow and accept that sometimes the journey is as important as the destination. The side effects are that I feel more independent. I'm sacrificing personal time and comfort-zone for the bigger picture and that's okay with me. I like being the kind of person who can roll with the changes and adapt instead of being locked into plans. I feel more adventurous and impulsive, and that's informing other aspects of my life in positive ways.

In terms of personal growth, I'd call it Diane: 1, Fear: 0.

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