In January, when I sent out review drafts to friends for comments, I had set the end of June as a deadline for myself. I really wanted to be done by then with a final draft. My plan was to complete the final draft by that date so I could move on to my query letter to be done by July 30th. In January that seemed easily do-able. What did I learn? Easy to set, harder to do.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe in deadlines. And I can push myself, work into the wee hours, get up mega-early (4 am) and pound it out. And some of those I sent drafts to were on top of it and in some cases got back to me early on, some with hugely helpful initial comments. Most notable of my readers is my sister-in-law who is a professional copywriter and editor. She did a phenomenal job that I found profoundly insightful, incredibly precise, and wonderfully challenging. She honed the book and made me think. Others let me down, and it became obvious that they would never finish…or perhaps never or only barely even start.
But remember my earlier posts: Life is Like That and Carpe Diem? Life seems to happen and people happen and death happens. William, my friend and writing partner, was caught by a different, more real, truly painful ‘deadline’ in the battle between his dear Sharon and cancer, which she lost this month. I am just back from Texas and the aftermath of that loss.
We were there from the day of her funeral the 22nd until the 29th. And throughout it all I pressed on with Linda’s edits. I was within pages of being done when my computer gave me what my husband called a “Kiss of Death” failure message. Luckily in the world of computers I have a brilliant and able husband. First of all he had previously helped me create an internet “Dropbox” account and he created a shared Dropbox with him where I saved my work….so none of my book was even at risk of being lost. No matter what, because it was on the internet, it was accessible and because I shared it with Doug, he also could access it. I certainly periodically saved to a thumbdrive stick, but without Dropbox I would have had a true panic attack, and much hard work might have been lost. Secondly, computer savvy man that he is, he fixed my computer and what could have been a ‘fatal’ error was recovered.
So what have I learned I can share? Deadlines face us all, but some don’t attend to them, and my deadline is not yours, even when yours affects mine. And: You can’t save anything unless you are thinking about saving and protecting it. We need to be prepared for unexpected events. Maybe that is as true in life as it is in writing. Everything important takes time and commitment, caring and attention. People as well as computers can face death’s kiss. There are no guarantees, and those dear to us are the priority. We need to remember every day, savor and save every day. We need special places in our lives of safety and security – Dropboxes – that we remember to share with those we love, where we both or all mutually contribute. That may not stop the kiss of death which will ultimately touch us all, but it will create safe places, places of the heart, interconnected, where we will always live on.