“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.
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.