Yesterday at Laguna Beach, my camera flashed the dreaded phrase: MEMORY CARD FULL. I spent the next fifteen minutes going through and deleting duplicate poses, blurry shots, and ill-framed photos so we’d have enough space for backgrounds of waves and sand. So this morning, before heading out for our final day at Disneyland, one of my main tasks was to dump the memory card onto the laptop.

And as I did, of course I stopped to admire the pictures, savoring each “magic memory” (Disneyland requires you to add the adjective “magic” at least once in every applicable situation) as if it were months ago instead of just the past four days.

What surprised me is that the photos we’d planned to get, like a family portrait in front of the castle (which, by the way, is way smaller as an adult; I remember it being so much taller!), are only so-so. My favorite photo, by contrast, isn’t in front of an iconically Disneyland background at all, but a random moment at a wagon wheel after a barbecue lunch in Frontierland.

Part of it is simply serendipity. We have an eight-month-old, and it’s a little tough to get him to smile at pre-planned opportunities. You have to catch him when he’s happy, and that’s that. But also it’s the setting, when you happen to stumble across a wagon wheel and think how baby feet would fit perfectly on it (Hubby’s idea).

It reminded me a little of how I thought my first novel would be about a family with six kids raising backyard chickens and living on a street called Infinity; instead, it’s a young adult novel paralleling the myth of Cupid and Psyche, because one day that myth fell into place with the story and changed everything. With the Wendy and the Lost Boys manuscript I’m finishing up, it started as just the idea of one teenage girl whose best friends are all boys and all have totally different music tastes; then, same thing: the story of Peter Pan dropped in as if it were meant to be.

Other novel ideas I’ve had have gone through similar transfigurations. They rarely resemble my initial character sketches and sketchy scenes. The expectations that I have for each quickly change as serendipity takes over and original ideas merge with and morph into new ones.

So no, I’m not coming home with the photos I thought I’d get. But it all works out. A little spontaneity, serendipity, and flexibility go a long way.

Ever experienced this with vacations, writing, or other parts of life?

Leave a comment!


8 thoughts on “Flexible Expectations: Disneyland Photos and Novel Ideas

  1. Love it! That’s just so true about everything in life. I am learning to roll with the punches a little more, because I have also noticed that things tend to turn out better than they could ever be planned. πŸ™‚ I can’t wait to see ALL of your pictures!


  2. Only in about everything. Life never turns out how I plan it. Sometimes it’s way better, other times…not so much. Always better with writing, though. πŸ™‚ I’ve always loved serendipity.


    1. LOVED your photos from Disneyland a while ago, by the way. I wanted to copy you on the idea of having people guess where each photo came from, but I couldn’t come up with cool enough shots. 😦


      1. Aaaw you’re nice ^_^ I took those disneyland pictures wandering around alone in the park. I totally think Disneyland is best enjoyed with family πŸ™‚


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