Thursday, May 12, 2016


Today we’re going to discuss priorities and putting important stuff first. But before that rant, good news. I’ve got the second draft of my WIP all typed up and printed out. I’m going to let it sit for a week while I do the research I should have been doing all along. Then I can fact-check and edit before I type up the final draft into the laptop for emailing to publishers. Sure, it’s an extra step and extra work, but I’ve discovered I catch more errors when I retype. We all want our final drafts to be all polished and sparkly when we send them off to market, right?

I’d been hoping to be at this point at least two months ago. I wanted to send this one out in March, but everything took longer than I’d estimated. I’d blame time management, but here’s the problem: time can’t be managed. You grab for it and it slips away from you. Life has this funny habit of getting in the way when you’re trying to get things done.

Take last weekend. I hope everybody had a fun Mother’s Day. I had a—well, let me tell you all about it. After all, I’ve got a blog page to fill.

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My mother passed away about six years ago, and I never got around to having kids of my own, so Mother’s Day to me is just another Sunday any more. It’s also a chance to pick up a few extra bucks delivering flowers for a local florist chain. They always need drivers around the holidays, Mother’s Day in particular. (And Valentine’s Day, but I don’t sign up for that. Too much chance of snow or ice. I live in a semi-rural area, with miles of narrow, twisty, back country roads, a lot of them on mountains. Let the folks with 4-wheel drives handle that one.) So my aging Jetta and I signed up to make moms happy on Friday and Saturday. The guy said he was good for Sunday, but I agreed to be on call.

It wasn’t until I got home and double-checked the calendar that I realized my first mistake. Mother’s Day is the second Sunday in May. The first Saturday in May is Free Comic Book Day, a celebration I try not to miss. I grew up reading comic books, and still hang out at my local comic shop. I read a lot of the original books those big Marvel movies were based on. And anything with “free” in the name is a place I want to be.

However, thanks to May starting on a Sunday this year, Free Comic Book Day was set for the Saturday before Mother’s Day. I’d just agreed to work on that Saturday. Crap. By the time I got there all the good freebies would be gone and I’d be stuck pawing through leftover issues of Strawberry Shortcake and the indie books nobody’s heard of. Well, couldn’t be helped. I’d made a commitment. Anyway, it only takes three-four hours to do the flower delivery. I could go afterwards. No sweat.

I should have known Murphy’s Law wasn’t finished with me.

Wednesday afternoon I got an assignment from my freelance employer. Due date: Monday. Roughly four days to get the work done and out, and two of those days were now already spoken for. It’s not even Thursday yet, and the pressure’s already on. And there’s nobody to blame but me. I agreed to both the paid jobs. I just wasn’t expecting the short deadline on the freelance stuff. Jurassic Park was right: life finds a way to screw you sideways.

What do you do? You bull your way through. And you set priorities.

Top of the list was the flower delivery. I had to show up at a certain time, pick up my load, and deliver. Would’ve worked out fine if Friday hadn’t been one long, never-ending rain storm. Trying to spot street signs and house numbers from a moving vehicle is bad enough. It’s worse in the rain, with your windows fogged up. Then I got lost in the retirement home complex. My last delivery of the day was on Farmersville Road. Farmersville Road stretches across half the county, in all four directions. The address didn’t specify which section it was on. I asked a guy with GPS on his cell phone to find it on MapQuest for me, and he sent me off in the wrong direction. In the rain. It was that kind of a day.

Saturday went a lot better. It wasn’t raining, for starters. Good thing, because I got a route with all those twisty mountain roads and houses up on hillsides with steep driveways. Not something I would have wanted to attempt in pouring rain with a stick shift. However, the houses are farther apart out there, and the streets aren’t always marked. And there’s always that one other driver right on your bumper when you’re trying to read numbers on mailboxes. Seriously. I’m tooling along looking for Mrs. Zitslaff’s house so I can give her her basket of posies, and the only other driver on the backcountry two-lane is glued to my car’s rear end. On the one long section where I had no deliveries and knew where I was headed, I had nobody behind me. Go figure.

After deliveries I went to my next priority, the paid freelance work. I managed to finish the first run-through by Saturday, so I planned to devote all day Sunday to that project, in order to make Monday’s deadline. Good thing, because two days of climbing in and out of the car for four hours at a stretch left me with hip and leg pains and general overall tiredness. I’m so out of shape it isn’t funny. But the freelance work’s on the computer, and I can work in bed. Except for the hour or so I spent mowing the lawn, which had sprouted during the previous week’s rain. Well, getting up and moving around is always good for the bod.

Somehow, I did it. I made it through flower deliveries in the rain and got the paid work finished by Monday’s deadline and got the lawn looking decent again. I even made it out to Free Comic Book Day, although most of the good ones were already gone, as I’d feared. No big. The companies will just reboot their whole line in another year or two anyway, and the storylines they’re putting out now will become irrelevant. Just watch the movies. It’s easier.

Of course, something had to give, and it was my own writing. Now you know why it takes me so long to write a story. Things like this keep cropping up. Then I have to prioritize, and somehow it’s always my own personal stuff that has to get shoved to the back. Until I start putting my own work first, I’m not going to get anywhere. Maybe if it supported me the way the paid jobs do, I’d give more attention to it. I’m going to have to work on that.

Just as soon as I find the time. I just got another freelance assignment, with another short Monday deadline. There goes my weekend. Again. I want to get it wrapped up by Sunday so I can go out and catch Captain America: Civil War. Priorities, you know.

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