I’m Not Ready, This Is Still My First Cup Of Coffee

Photo Credit: Debbie and Ron Guditus. A rare moment of relaxation at the Goudreau’s

“What lays behind the door of tomorrow has been readied by the events of today. But neither will matter if I’m blocking the damn door.”

― Craig D. Lounsbrough

I’m not ready to manage all the shenanigans going on in my life. In fact, I may never be ready because I’ve dug myself a hole so deep I fear it has surpassed my ability to climb out. Everyone assumes I know how to climb, but I’m pretty sure I am the only one trying to get out of this deep crevasse without the proper equipment, and my progress is deplorable.

Besides, I’ve become accustomed to the darkness, the earthy smell, and living as if a groundhog. I’m wondering if DoorDash delivers to the abyss. 

I’ve never written a book, and my assumption was both naive and unrealistic. I did not realize how difficult and time-consuming it would be to edit a book I thought I already edited. 

If you are triggered by technology, please skip the next few paragraphs. They’re graphic, disconcerting, and might instigate a migraine or, worse, an insatiable need to dig. Consider yourself warned. 

On July 29th, I hit the send button with the confidence of our previous president and sent the final draft of my manuscript, Grow Damn It, to my publisher. I was privately gloating over the fact I delivered it an entire day early and truly believed if they found more than half a dozen errors, that would be surprising. 

You only know what you know until presented with new information. And that’s gospel, my friend.

In all honesty, I didn’t know what to expect. I thought there might be some commentary on the content and a few suggestions on what we might consider deleting or material they wanted me to expand on. It seemed reasonable that whoever was working on my project would be capable of turning this farrago of essays into a tidy and clean document ready for publication. 

What seems reasonable to one might be total insanity to another, or visa versa, as in my case.

Two days later, I received an email with two harmless-looking attachments, but most communication can be deceiving. One of the attachments was my manuscript put together in a single document instead of two (which I had to divide because my AOL account could not send it as one, go easy on the AOL thing, this is a family-friendly publication). 

Here’s the suspicious part. They asked me to make all changes to the manuscript on the new document.

All changes?

Fair enough. I’m sure there was a misspelling or two. 

Then I open the second document. Big mistake. It was generated from some sort of editing software identifying nine hundred issues I might consider changing. 

Nine hundred issues I might consider changing. Yes, you read that right, nine hundred. And if you happen to use their program, it will be a lot easier. And bonus, they’ve included a discount code. 

I don’t have the damn program, nor do I want to purchase it with their discount code and then figure out how to use it.

Oh, and by the way, I have two weeks to get this all done.

Didn’t some idiot write something about the things you resist are the things you need to do first? 

Yes, there was moaning and groaning, deep breaths, and waves of cursing. The wine and chocolate were purely medicinal, and even worse, I couldn’t call my mother.

There is another major deadline that I am also avoiding, and that involves the lengthy preparation I need to be doing to get ready for a one hundred and seventy-five-mile hike. At the end of September OF THIS YEAR, Larry and I will be participating in a rigorous hike. For two weeks, we’ll be climbing over the Pyrenees mountains and walking from Spain to France along the El Camino de Santiago. What the hell was I thinking? I might be completely delusional about the prospect of a sixty-two-year-old woman accomplishing either goal, let alone both.  

First things first. The manuscript is limping along with 900 chads dangling from some new fangle software. I want a recount. 

Larry says, “I know you don’t like talking to people, but you need to send your publisher an email asking for a phone conference. This one is going to require a conversation.”

I say, “I don’t like people. Besides, I’m a writer, not a conversationalist.”

“Just ask if you can schedule a phone call with the person in charge of your project.”

I whined a lot, but I sent the email and also prepared a document with ten questions so I’d be READY for our CONVERSATION.

The next day I get an email back from the publisher. He says they don’t have a person assigned to my project, it’s a team, and those are just suggestions. I am not required to make any changes. He added that they are very happy with the manuscript.

??? Does something seem fishy to you?

So I email all ten of my irrelevant questions to my publisher. I thought that was rather civil considering the nine hundred issues he wants me to respond to in less than two weeks.

Here are a few examples. His response is in bold.

Do I need to purchase the program, or can you just hit a button and make the grammatical changes? It would take me a month to comb through 60,000 words and find all the errors you noted in the summary, and honestly, I would rather clean a toilet.  No, you are not required to purchase. To use the program, yes. These are suggested edits, not necessarily errors or required changes. 

Do we need permission to use the quotes from the authors I cited? A beta reader mentioned that, which is quite alarming as I borrow ideas as if a thief. No. 

I have two more blurbs from authors who are currently reading the book. Will I be able to add those? They’re going to be swell ~ just sayin’ Yes. 

Will I get to do a final read-through before it goes to print because I might want to change a word or two? Yes, multiple times still. 

Super warm and fuzzy. I’m sure he’s ruing the day he took on my project.

Well, as you can see, I’m going to have to buy the blasted program if I have any hope of editing this thing in less than two weeks. I notice there is a one-month option for a rather reasonable rate. I put in my credit card and wall-la; I have no fucking idea what to do with the thing that appears. 

I harness the knowledge of my Gecko group, and Daniel agrees to stay on the call and see if he can help marry my document to the new software. We run out of time before I even figure out how to screen share! 

My daughter Julie shows up in answer to my distress call sent earlier in the day. She’s under forty, a native of the techno world, but it takes her more than an hour to get the document and software to work together. I’m still not completely clear on the full possibilities of this program, but I amble forward with the best of intentions.

So from that day forth, I have been scanning the document for ‘suggestions’ and making any changes that I think benefit the project. I try and work through multiple sections at a time, and I’ve come to the conclusion I will never be done. There is always a better word choice, additions to the text, and things that either need to be deleted or expanded! 

It will truly never end. 

Larry says, “we have to start training.”

I say, “I know, I know. I just want to get all these ‘suggestions” addressed.”

“I’ve made up a schedule for the week. Monday, we’re hiking from Campbell to St. Joe’s hill. That should be about thirteen or fourteen miles. We’ll start at 9:00 am sharp, and we should be done by early afternoon. Then we’ll see if we feel like hiking the next day and the next.”

“But I need to work on the manuscript.”

“You need to prepare for this trip too.”

“I’m probably in good enough shape already.”

“That’s what you said about the manuscript.”

Fair enough, but I was thinking such vile thoughts that a confessional might be required, and that still might not be enough. As my dad would say, “Jesus.” Emphasis on us. 

We did the walk because he’s pushy and persistent and offered to buy me breakfast and coffee first. I know I’m easy, but the hike was not. It was ambitious. I’m not only sore but completely exhausted. I put on my big girl panties and walked another five miles today. Tomorrow we’re doing fifteen again. Whoever said what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger was a jerk.

Oh, and the document. It has been scanned so many times, altered, and massaged that Larry’s actually jealous of all the attention I’m lavishing on it. But as Wallace Miles says, “Opportunity is seized in the preparation, long before the moment.”

Get a life, dude. 

I’m not ready for anything, but the truth is no one is ready for life, and I believe the world is changed by people who aren’t ready. How boring would life be if we all knew what we were doing? Maybe all we need is the courage to do what we’re not ready to do because, honestly, that’s usually our only option. I used my wits as a shovel and dug myself some steps so I could climb out of the damn hole. It’s the best I can do, and today, I sent that well-nurtured manuscript back to the publisher.

We’ll see if it Grows, Damn It.

I’m Living in the Gap, totally unprepared, how’s your week going?

PS ~ Sorry for the delayed responses to comments, the missed posts, and general wayward behavior on my part. I’m in a hole!

PSS ~ A shout out to the Goudreau’s who hosted us for a relaxing pizza night, so relaxing I fell asleep! And to the Guditus’ for capturing the moment.

49 Comments

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  1. And now you know why I have never written a book! 🙂
    Good luck with the El Camino. At least you are going in September when it hopefully won’t be TOO hot. 🙂
    Thanks for a fun read, and for confirming to me that I will never publish a book.
    Best wishes, Pete. x

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh my goodness Pete, it’s not that bad and your last serial is worthy of expanding into a novel! I imagine Hollywood would come calling. And yes, we’re hoping for cooler weather, we don’t start the hike until the beginning of October, so it could actually be cold. If there’s one thing age has taught me ~ Never Say Never! Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Eeek. Nine hundred suggestions and a software editor to learn. Hopefully, you’re finding lots of the suggestions rather basic. And your trip sounds utterly wonderful, though 12-14 miles per day is a lot. I don’t think I could do it, Cheryl, even if I wanted to. Wishing you the best of luck across the board. You’ll dig yourself out and then off you go!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Diana, I was feeling overwhelmed until they explained to me that these were merely generated suggestions, nothing I had to change, but things I might want to consider. For the most part I’ve opted for my own voice. As for the hike, we’ve been training, and have done several challenging 14 mile hikes, followed by a short 5 miler the next day. As we get closer we’ll have to try two or three 12 mile hikes in a row. I’m hoping for the best and looking forward to the adventure! Thanks for sharing your spectacular journey and photos! Glad you’re home safe and sound, minus one computer. Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m glad the suggestions were only that. Phew! I can understand your panic though! My brother walked the Inca Trail in Peru and did a lot of training for that one. You’ll be glad you put in the effort. My husband and I are happy sticking with our easy hikes, but I’m a bit envious. Can’t wait to hear about it when you get back!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Yikes! You got slapped by the technology gap us over 50’s hate! I can’t believe “900 optional edits”! I probably would have cried and then wine and chocolate would have ensued! LOL Congrats on tackling this project and I know that it is going to be awesome. I will live vicariously through your European hike – no way this gal could do that! And yes, sometimes we do have to take the only option we are given….glad you’re climbing your way out! Always love your truthful antics! Best Wishes! Leigh

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Leigh, I did indeed get slapped by the technology gap! I love your expressions, “then wine and chocolate would have ensued.” Bahaha. I’m nearing the finish line on the book (famous last words) but we still have to hammer out a book cover and other such things. The hike might be a desperately needed distraction if we survive. Thanks for joining me in the struggle! Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I was friends with two writers that put on the Palm Springs Writer’s Conference in the early 1990s. (Gerry Petievich and Art Lyons). They were friends with Ray Bradbury and invited him each year to speak. I got to meet him and heard him say that. FYI, Petievich was my writing mentor when I first began writing and he would critique my work. I had NO CLUE how lucky I was to have the “To Live and Die in LA” author try and help me out!

        Liked by 3 people

        1. Definitely. Looking back, I feel like I squandered the opportunity and didn’t realize how blessed I was. At the time though, I was a couple months into being a first time mom. Everything was a haze.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. C, there’s no better digger and climber than you! You’ve grown your wit and wisdom muscles! As always, I giggled and gasped (900?!?!?!) when I read this. My book was LITTLE~a 32 page children’s book and I had to hire a coach to teach me the software! I never DREAMED it would so difficult. If there’s anyone that can bike, hike, and edit long distances, it’s YOU my friend. You’re amazing! I can’t wait to read your book. And to hear more of all your adventures! I can see why you have to rest during get togethers! Sending love, tons of prayers, and lots of hugs!! Love you! 💛💕

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Karla, I love this, “your wit and wisdom muscles,” that’s gold. I love your little book by the way and so do many others! It was worth all the effort and I’m sure Grow Damn It will benefit from all those 900 “suggestions.” We’re all just a work in progress, doing the best we can, with what gets thrown in front of us. As always, I’m amazed you have time to read and respond. I’m hoping you in gentle prayers, sending love and hugs your way. Love you, C

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    1. Now Fraggle, I have suggested numerous times that you put all those gorgeous photos of yours into a coffee table book and then I could browse through your life at leisure! Include some of the historical stuff and you have a best seller! You just delete this and carry on…hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree Dorothy, and you are so right, this has not been as bad as I thought when the attachment appeared in my mailbox. The saving grace was when they said they were pleased with the manuscript “just the way it was.” We’ll see what comes next. I’m lowering my expectations this time! Hugs, C

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      1. I remember I got an article back that I wrote for a Vermont magazine and it had a million mark-ups and my granddaughter looked at it and was aghast. I explained to her that that is why we have editors, to make sure we are conveying what we intended (sometimes we were and sometimes we weren’t) and to catch all the little glitches. She asked me if it bothered me, but by then I had been a newspaper reporter for a nearly two decades and I just shrugged. “It’s the process!”
        I can’t wait to see your finished product product Cheryl!
        AND I wish you great luck on that amazing hike! Yikes!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Dorothy, you have an amazing history, and I love that you were able to do what you love and support your family at the same time. You exude a lot of energy in your writing, I imagine you had your finger on the pulse of all things in your day. Thanks for sharing a piece of your history with me. Hugs, C

          Liked by 1 person

  5. You’re book is gonna be awesome. 🎉💃

    This story right here is why I stopped sending to publishers. I can neither afford nor do I want to adhere to the cost of 900 probably non-important suggestions, apps, fees and other such nonsense.

    But a good publisher builds a relationship with the author. They have a good understanding of each other and lots of dialogue. To find such a gem I have no clue how to go about, but your experience sounds a little “detached”. Impersonal. 🤷‍♀️

    I use Pro Writing Aid, the free version, to run things through. In my view it’s better, and less “adolescent” than Grammarly. I once had a free sample from a potential publisher done on an erotica chapter and I compared his suggestions to the Pro Writing Aid thingy and decided, nah. I’m stubborn that way. He was really nice though, and I will consider him in the future, but at the time I didn’t have the fee he required. I had to make do without his services.

    Regardless, your book is going to be awesome! And your hikes and trip will only add more fodder to future books. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Claudette for the encouraging words. The thing I keep coming back to is the fact I’m an unknown writer, they’re taking a huge risk on me, and so far covering all the expenses of editing, creating a cover, and marketing. I was relieved to know these were just suggestions and they were not expecting me to change much, if anything at all. I did follow some of the advice and I deleted a few unnecessary adverbs and I agreed with some of the suggestions that made the text more readable. We’ll see what they want from me next. I figured this was a learning opportunity for me and I’m soaking up the process and suggestions to make the manuscript as clean and readable as possible. Maybe next time, if there is one, I’ll go a different route. And like I said, I don’t think I would ever be done without a publisher saying, stop, we’re going to press. Hugs, C

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Cheryl-
        I’m learning from your experience. I guess the self/new publishing route is different than what my instructor shared with the class a few years ago re using quotes. Since I often do this myself (why reinvent the wheel?), I’m glad they put you at ease in this regard.
        Sorry I didn’t finish reading what you sent to me but I’m looking forward to comparing it to the finished product.
        I doubt I will ever be as ambitious as you are, either walking/hiking or writing-wise, so again thanks for letting me learn from/through you.
        As my late mother would often say to her friends – You’re the best!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. This is what I love about the blogging/writing community, we learn from each other! I so appreciate you offering to read and offer suggestions for my manuscript! The thing you spotted in the intro was a great save! I always appreciate your encouragement and perspective! So here’s some support of your work ~ keep at it! You’re the best! Hugs, C

          Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow Neighbor! Great story about the work it takes to become published. You are ambitious! Good for you!

    And good for you and Larry for walking through the Pyrenees to the Cathedral of Saint James! Just WOW!

    I’d been toying with the idea of doing the way of Saint James from Lourdes to Santiago de Compostela, in spring of 2021 (as we were ‘supposed to be’ living there) but COVID, and sick in-laws prevented that timing. . .

    It will never happen by foot for us now, as Terrie’s knees wouldn’t last the 3 days. The Cathedral and Lourdes are on my bucket list none the less.
    Which brings me to this nugget: did you know that in addition to ‘walking’ you can also ride bikes (or a tandom bike), or even horses on the Way of St. James? ¡es verdad!

    So, in closing, do you know anyone who has done the walk? If not, a very dear friend of mine has done the walk multiple times. He and his wife live in the hills in Morgan Hill and are two of the most decent, helpful people I have ever had the pleasure to get to known. Interestingly, they helped train me as a Sacristan at St. Lucy.
    I know Oscar would be more than happy to chat with you and Larry.

    Cheers,

    CT

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Chris, Larry and I have been wanting to do this walk for about ten years when we watched the movie called The Way with Martin Sheen. Of course we didn’t have the time ten years ago to do such a long walk, so we waited until we turned sixty and we signed up with a company to plan it all out for us. But then COVID hit and we’ve been waiting for the restrictions on travel to open up so we could go. We’re pretty excited. If we love it we might plan a second trip in the near future while we’re still healthy enough to do it. I did not know you could bike the way? I’ll have to mention that to Larry, might be something to think about for another time. If you get a chance send me the contact info of your Morgan Hill friends, we’d love to touch basis with them before we go! Hugs, C

      Like

      1. How cool Neighbor!
        Loved “signed up with a company to plan it all out for us.”
        Well, All planned out then. Concierge, white glove service . . . Surrey coach and footman following along a furlong behind I’m guessing, eh, what! How completely ‘La-te-da’!

        Sounds completely ‘awesome-wonderful’ Cheryl. Hoping you two have the time of your lives. You both deserve it! 😘🙏❤️🤗

        Liked by 1 person

    1. You know, the shine of signing a contract is wearing off Diane, and we have a long way to go before the thing goes to print. So far our bodies are holding up better than our feet! Larry has several blisters and I have some sort spots. Breaking in the new shoes seems to be key! Hugs, C

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  7. I’m sure you were happy that what came back from the publisher were “only suggestions”, all 900 of them. 😀 I have total confidence that your hole is not nearly as deep as you think. You are a very talented lady.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. There you go with the metaphors, again lol This one made me literally LAUGH OUT LOUD: “I hit the send button with the confidence of our previous president,” because none of us possesses that amount of confidence, except him.

    Anywho, I’m sure you’ll be fine, and remember, when they say it’s “suggested,” believe them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Kathy, I know, I am a major metaphor abuser! But I couldn’t resist exploiting the former presidents confidence since it’s rather legendary! Glad you enjoyed the humor! It’s always a thrill when someone actually laughs at something I wrote! You made my day. Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Oye! Cheryl, I need to ask – buy a program? Did you not write your MS in Word? I love my editor. When I send her my Word doc MS, she sends back 2 versions. One is clean with the suggestions she made, the other is the one with tracking, so I can see where she corrected the blips and changes. I find that so helpful and learning what’s been changed or corrected makes me write cleaner manuscripts with every book. Ouch, 900 changes? I saw someome above mentioned ProWritingAid software. I purchased a lifetime license from them and it’s a great editing program which helps catch wonky stuff before sending to editor. Yup, welcome to authordom. Nobody said it was easy. It’s no surprise I wrote another book 2 years ago and am only now getting back to it to start the grueling publishing and 500 times editing reads til I’m sick of my book again, lol. Life of publishing. But hey, what a fantastic trip you have to look forward to! Hugs. ❤ xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Debby, I have a Mac and it does not come with Word. I do all my writing on google docs. When my publisher asked me to send my manuscript back to him via word I was overjoyed to find that option available on my Mac. So I divided it in two parts and sent it back to the publisher. The problem came when they wanted me to marry the word document they sent back to me with this editing program. My daughter came over and downloaded both and figured out how to make them work together. Thank God she lives across the street. I used a regular (real person) editor when I was first organizing my manuscript, before I sent it to the publisher, and I’m so glad I did as I’m sure it was much more appealing after being edited. Anyway, I’m learning as I go, and it might be a good idea to purchase a lifetime license for ProWritingAid for future projects. It’s definitely a lot more work than I expected. Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Cheryl. I’m glad you had your daughter to help out with the grueling tech issues. Yes, writing is a joy, but the after stuff can make us want to tear our hair out. Edits and revisions are my least favorite in the process, lol. I would like to add that if you are going to wait to purchase ProWritingAid, buy it on Black Friday. That’s when a writing friend alerted me to the best price on a lifetime warranty. It was well less than $100. Otherwise, if you pay monthly, it can get expensive. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  10. It amazes me that he said oh we love your work so far and you’re like, oh really? LOL

    I can not wait to hear about this massive ass hike coming up. That is so awesome. And Larry is a hoot! I love his commentary so much!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I missed this comment Belladonna because I’m still climbing out of the hole! Larry and I have been walking our asses off and honestly we’re starting to grate on each others nerves! I have no idea how we’ll survive the Camino. But damn, it’ll make for a good story. The thing about Larry is he is a constant source of material for the blog. He’s ornery and I’m sassy, it’s amazing we’ve been married 38 years. Yes, I was twelve! Hugs. C

      Liked by 1 person

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