Or why I haven’t posted in over four months.
While I’ll go into the boring story in a bit, we’ve all heard the excuse. Sometimes when life happens, you can still go about doing everything you were doing. Other times, some things get pushed to the wayside as other priorities take over. That does not mean those priorities are the most important to you – just the most demanding.
Sometimes, it’s not life that happens. Just a distraction. I am not immune from being easily distracted. As much as I intend to keep doing something – Oh look, shiny.
Now for the story.
Either at the end of November or beginning of December, I got the flu or something. It knocked me out for a couple days.
Now, women always like to say men are babies when they get sick. My wife will say the same thing about me. In my defense, I don’t want to be babied. I just want to be left alone to sleep it off.
My wife is wonderful and she means the best. She will bring everything she thinks I need to me in bed. This despite my telling her I just want to sleep. I love her more than anything.
Anyways, when the flu or whatever was gone I was left with a cough. Kinda the same thing happened last year and after a month or so, it finally went away. So I simply coughed my way through to Christmas and New Years feeling miserable and trying to ignore the incessant urge to cough as much as possible. It was annoying and draining but not too bad.
That would probably be chapter one of this short story.
The next part of this excuse involves work.
I had been the onsite IT department and do the materials costs for a small business. While have worked full time, I’ve been part time since my wife’s knee surgery (she is still not ready to take the bus to work so I drive her). When business was slow, I had a day or two extra off of work.
Until last year. Business was pretty good (slight improvement in the economy but also the fact that many of our competitors went out of business the previous years has left us in a good position). My last count had us at around forty employees. I was shocked to discover that we now have about 120.
Anyways, the owner decided to hire a full time IT person late spring/early summer of last year to take over the IT work and develop an inventory tracking system. There are other issues into why he was hired that I will not go into. He was good at his job and I agreed to much of what he did as far as the network goes although there are some things that made things needlessly complicated for the average user. He also had the pull to do things I could not have gotten done. For instance, a new server was added easily while it took us two years of pleading before to update a database server that even the software vendor said we needed.
I, however, officially lost a significant portion of my duties at work (although I still ended up doing some things). I was now officially only working three days a week (short days as I still drive my wife to her job). It was more a blow to my ego than anything else but like I said before, there was another reason he was hired so I got over it.
This did allow me the time to start writing last year. I am sure I would not have been able to start writing and finish the first draft of two novels at about 200000 words last year as a new writer without the extra time. I also had a surprise portrait client (I spent most of my adult life as a photographer).
So last December, I was finally getting used to what looked like my future. I would be a writer. I was planning to publish four books this year. At least. Maybe more.
I was looking forward to dressing better when I went to work for once. Since I was no longer the person that had to go to the shop to fix the computers that break down there I didn’t have to worry about ruining a decent pair of khakis. The shop at work is so dusty that I think the last computer I needed to fix (ended up replacing it) started to actually catch fire as an overheated power supply burned the sawdust inside – there was smoke that did not smell like electronics smoke but wood. So I could now go to work dressed like someone who worked in an office.
Anyways, other things happened late last fall at work. The general manager was escorted out of the building by the police. Apparently he was starting another company as a direct competitor. While a new general manager took over, the IT guy stepped in to help him adjust. Again, there are reasons he could do this I can’t go into.
The last day of work last year, I wished the IT guy a happy New Year’s as I left. He was working on developing the inventory program that was one of the original reasons given for hiring him.
I finished last year ready to start working the new year on becoming a writer. My plan was to write a prequel plus one more book and start publishing the series I just started once I had the three ready to go. I hoped to supplement the part income with a few portraits this year (which looked very possible) while I wrote a forth book. Still coughing, I at least had the energy to still write with the days off.
Then the call came.
Literally, as I sat down at my computer, my phone rang.
“James, could you come in? We have a network problem.”
I thought they had someone to take care of that now. They did have someone to take care of that. Anyways, I got ready and made the 45+ minute drive to work, knowing that I’d not make much that day as I would be starting late.
Well, it turns out the new IT guy sort of disappeared. Maybe not sort of. They asked me to take over as IT. Back to five days a week (full time or as close to it as I wanted with the understanding I still needed to drive my wife to work). Also, a raise.
That is what I mean about life happening. Just when I thought I had the near future figured out, everything changed. While I don’t make a full forty hour week, I spend an additional two and a half hours in the car every workday. After working on a computer all day solving problems and driving in traffic, I really don’t feel very creative. I really don’t want to do any thinking.
It’s been interesting. The IT guy had made changes to the network. Many I had no idea about and some were not things I was (some still) experience with. On top of that, he had changed some network passwords. An email let us find out where the key file for the password list was kept on his workstation. However, the next week his workstation was gone (we have no idea when it will be returned). I was in charge of a network without the passwords to administrate it. (I have managed to recover nearly all the passwords. Something which should not have been possible. It is something I both thank God for and feel a bit proud of myself.)
To add on to that, my cough did not go away. It got worse. And worse. To me, it brought back distant memories of the asthma I had when I was very young. Like in was inhaling fire. I finally went to urgent care where I was given a ten day supply of antibiotics. The antibiotics did nothing and I was just as bad at the end of taking them as when I started. I figured I would just wait till it went away.
The cough did not go away. I ended up making an appointment to see my doctor. I have only seen him once before for a checkup and that was four years ago. I’m not much into seeing the doctor.
The doctor felt that it was probably asthma. He put me on a tapered dose of medicine hoping to knock it out. At the end of the three high dose days, I felt cured. I felt better than I had since fall.
Then I got sick again. I had to stay home from work for a day (pretty rare for me – I’ll usually stick it out till the weekend). The server crashing the day before at work probably did not help. At the end of the tapered doses, I was just as bad as before.
My doctor had me go for a chest x-ray and started me on an inhaler.
Yep, I have asthma again.
After about two weeks on the inhaler, I am doing much better. Good enough to start doing a few minor exercises like push-ups and sit-ups again. I am terribly out of shape. I’ve lost so much weight from coughing that jeans I bought just this year that fit perfectly are now seriously too big and baggy (and those are the straight leg pairs).
The cough is still not gone but co-workers are no longer joking about the noise I make at work (it was all friendly by the way). When I do cough, it is no where near as violent. My wife is even letting me drink coffee again (she was convinced caffeine and coffee makes coughs worse).
My energy level is starting to return and with it, a desire to start writing again. I am still excited about the series I started. I really love the characters and world and want to get back to it.
But I am out of practice. I was new to outlining. I was new to Scrivener. I have forgotten much of what I learned. So, I’ll be spending the rest of April relearning both. I hope to have an outline and Scrivener ready to go by the end of the month.
I also realize that I’m not going to publish four or more books this year. Especially since I only have one first draft finished. If I want to see any success, from what I have studied, I really need to have at minimum, three books ready to publish to start with.
My plan is to start with a shorter stand alone novel. It will be in the same world and with some of the characters. I am hoping a shorter novel will help me get the editing down before I try to edit the longer novel that is part of the series. I may even wait till I finish the prequel before I try to edit that longer first novel. Then, when the three are mostly ready, I’ll start with either the stand alone or first novel. The next two will be published soon after. That’s the plan at least.
So for now, a shorter novel is in the works before anything else. I also will start out a bit slower but aim for more consistency. My aim is to consistently do 1000 words a day. I am capable of more than that an hour. I am missing Camp NanoWriMo this month and I won’t be trying for 50K in July like last year but I hope that 30K every month will soon be normal. That’s a novel every two months. That’s not bad. Of course, with the length the last one went, it might be every 4-5 months. I’ll take that until I have the time to go to 2-5K a day and do that every day.
I’ll try to keep updating here too. Public humiliation is an important part of my motivation. Well, something like that.
That’s the plan. Unless life happens again.
Until then, the rumors of my early death were somewhat exaggerated.