Sunday, September 13, 2009

Computer serial killer? Or nervous breakdown?

I claimed I was going to be more transparent about the writing process - for me, anyway. I'm pretty sure a lot of it is personal and therefor unique for every writer. Of course, lots of things are the same, too. Maybe I'm crazy to mention this, or maybe I'm just plain crazy, but I had a bit of a mental breakdown recently. It wasn't a complete breakdown about everything. I got very nervous about a particular edit. It seemed like it was doomed. You know how my family swears I'm a computer serial killer - as in I kill defenseless laptops. I swear it's not on purpose but I'm beginning to believe I'm the Bermuda Triangle of computers. I flubbed on an edit from a brand new editor and brand new company (for me). So I got an email paraphrased like this: "Why would you do this?!?" That freaked me out. Literally. I didn't mean to do anything wrong, but I obviously had missed some stuff. Why, I'm not sure. So I was given another month to fix and return the edit again. But I was totally spazzing out. I felt like I was having a nervous breakdown every time I went to work on it. I'd force myself to do it, and then, the Bermuda Triangle struck again. I had a lot of work done, and my computer died before I had a chance to save it to a thumb drive or send it to myself on AOL. I hated to redo all that work when I truly believed I'd get my computer back in a few days. But a few days kept dragging out. When it finally returned, the repair company had wiped out my Word program. My husband and my son thought this free similar program would be okay so they didn't have to pay a mint for Word again (the repair company should've replaced Word or so my hubby claimed but they wouldn't). So, I opened my file on this new similar program. I couldn't see the Track Changes. And it added junk. So now, I was really freaking out and I begged hubby and DS1 to get me real Word YESTERDAY! Unfortunately, they took a couple more weeks. Remember when I got pneumonia and I couldn't do anything except throw up and have cold sweats? Yep, that was in the middle of all this as well. I was so weak for a month I could barely sit up or read or do anything. Finally, I thought I could get back into this edit. I slaved over it all one day, determined to get it done and back to my editor even though I was in dire fear she'd say she no longer wanted the book and wanted nothing more to do with me. Guess what? Yep, the computer died again! This time the monitor burned out as I was editing, before I could save my redone edits to my thumb drive or email it to myself (I never did get those lousy characters out or get Track Changes back so I had to start from scratch anyway). That was another couple weeks to wait for the new monitor to come in the mail and then for DS1 to install it. So, a one month edit took me months. I'm usually not like that. I've returned edits in a day and usually in a week. To say 2009's been lousy and I've been under a ton of other stress that may have contributed is an understatement. But that shouldn't matter. I'm supposed to be a professional. Somehow I managed to stay professional and hold things together for the day job. But that drained me so much I was dying by the time I finally made it home. Still... However, even though I'm a professional writer, and even though I know excuses are lame, I am at the end of the day human. Sometimes I falter no matter how hard I try to hold things together. I wasn't going to mention this. There seems to be an unwritten code among writers: don't talk about royalties - how many books sold or $ - and don't talk about things like this. But that reminds me of another organization I was in that controlled people by telling them "Fake it 'til you make it" and never talk about what's really going on in your business lest you scare others away. That sending out that was insidious mind control - they didn't want their reps comparing notes and finding out everybody was getting screwed over so they could keep screwing them over. Honesty's good. You'll also want to see what Amarinda Jones, Anika Hamilton, Anny Cook, Barbara Huffert, Brynn Paulin, Bronwyn Green, Dakota Rebel, Kelly Kirch, Molly Daniels, Sandra Cox, Regina Carlysle, and Cindy Spencer Pape are up to, so make sure to visit them also. :)

8 comments:

Amarinda Jones said...

Is there an unwritten code for writers? Not that I'm aware of.I thought it was more about good manners and that you do not discuss you wage - in anything - to anyone as it's tacky.

As for you - give yourself a break. I've never met you but I'm pretty certain you're human...you're allowed to stuff up...it's acceptable.

The Bumbles said...

Transparency is always good - unless you forgot to wear underwear with a see-thru fabric dress (haha). I think that you are correct to think that sharing will provide camraderie and support. And instead of calling them excuses I think what you laid out here was an honest explanation - one an editor hopefully could tolerate from a normally consistent, timely and well intentioned writer.

Ashley Ladd said...

You're right Amarinda. I wasn't clear enough. I didn't mean we should share how much we earn or how many copies we sell. Just the other aspects of writing, editing, and publishing.

Ashley Ladd said...

Unfortunately, I know someone who likes to wear very short skirts with g-strings (so I'm told)and then leans into car trunks and refrigerators and then gets upset when people complain instead of being supportive. :)

I promise not to be transparent that way.

But maybe I can help another writer know they're not alone if everything is not always hunky dory on the writing or editing scene.

A Buckeye Girl Reads said...

Thank you for being honest-writing is just like any other job. There are your good days, bad days and freak out moments. :)

Sandra Cox said...

OMG. The stars are definitely not aligned.

Linda Kage said...

Holy guacamole. I've had my computer crash and lost big chunks of story before, but I've never had it quite as bad as you have. I wasn't under a time constraint, or sick, or... well, any of that. You poor thing. I know how sick it makes you feel when you lose some of your manuscript. But, wow.

Kim Ayres said...

I share what ever knowledge I have at any time. Even if people know exactly how you do something, they can't do it the same way so will end up doing something else. I think if we live in fear our competition is going to discover our secrets, we dry up creatively.

Can you use any online platforms for your writing - Google Docs or something similar? That way you don't have to worry how many computers you kill. Or do they not have the required sophistication?

Anyway, I wanted to pop by and say hi, and thanks for taking the time to comment on my blog :)

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