Saturday, June 19, 2004

Another day, another review

I just looked out the window. The sky is a back lit pale blue, white around the edges, and it looks like someone has smeared dirt in swaths up and down above the trees in the north. Some of the dirt is paler, almost cream-colored, from the light of the sun going down. The pine trees are bending in the wind and the day is nearly gone. A sudden flash of lightning is followed by a crashing boom that reverberates beneath my feet in my loft office, but the sky is a bit lighter still out the office window and darker thru the windows at the south of the cabin over the deck. Another storm on its way.

This has been a week of violent thunderstorms, sleet, hail, and electrical outages. Three mornings I have awakened to the clock radio at my bedside blinking 12:00. After checking the time on my watch I see that anywhere from 7 to 9 hours have passed while I slept soundly. This feels more like spring in Ohio than summer in Colorado, but then again I'm not sure what summer in Colorado is supposed to be like. Somehow I doubt there will be another drought this year and the forests will be safe yet again from fire. Last summer I spent in a basement apartment with my nose pressed to the screen of a computer either designing and maintaining two web sites and doing my regular job. I came out of my hole in the ground to buy groceries and follow thru on appointments, but little else. When I came up here at the end of last July it was warm and sunny and clear with only one day of rain and electricity the whole time. So, I'm not quite sure what to expect. One thing is always certain, change is inevitable and constant.

Despite the late start and inability to get online -- and getting kicked offline by the thunderstorms running thru here off and on all day -- I managed to finish a book and a review to go along with it. A book about organization, which I sorely need, but which I have been lax about since I came to Colorado. Back home in Ohio in storage my filing cabinet, files, and organization waits in the dark. I began traveling without it and I miss the comfort and security of knowing exactly where everything is, from interview and research material to paid and unpaid bills, manuscripts, and article ideas. While the book was interesting and somewhat helpful, it gave me what I've been meaning to design for myself -- a database for submission tracking. I have one at Writer's Market Online, but I seldom use it. Too cumbersome and I get out of the habit. Today, I changed my laziness and downloaded a submission tracker and took most of the afternoon and evening inputting all the data I had written out on a homemade sheet that was difficult to read. (I have a tendency to scribble when I'm in a hurry) At least it's all down there, even though I discovered that some places where I submitted poetry or stories are either missing. I've probably written down the wrong website or not enough information to find it again. Oh, well, if they accept me they'll let me know; if not it will sit on my tracker like some of the stories I sent out about four years ago I've yet to hear about. Oh, I've contacted the publishers, but they have no record of having received my submission. Considering how many submissions they get and since they don't know me from the rest of the slush pile, it's not all that surprising.

I did realize thru all this that I have had a goodly number of acceptances and some of my work will be published this summer and followed by checks. I do need to get on the ball and get more of my work out there, but this had to be done first so that all I need do is input one submission instead of 100. Getting things like that together are much harder than keeping them up once they're set up.

I also had a program for inputting expenses and income, but that is on a computer I can no longer access because it just makes funny noises when I boot it up. I'll get it back eventually, but in the meantime I need to get hold of some of the software stored in Ohio so I can put the programs on these computers and get back on track. I prefer a certain amount of clutter, but not when it means I will have to pull out my hair come tax time. I like having hard copies and backups. It's the only anal retentive part of me, but it worked for me in the past. And I'm sure none of this is important to anyone but me.

In some ways I have been tentative about putting down any deep roots because I never know from one year to the next where I'll be. I admit to wanting to stay here for the foreseeable future and I am fighting to stay here, but if I can't generate a sufficient income I may have no choice but to go back to Ohio or get a regular job and drain all my creative energy into someone else's business instead of my own. Maybe if I had a regular queue of students for my online course on characterization, I wouldn't worry so much, but there are so many online courses out there given by people who have been teaching them longer than I and they have better publicity. I guess I'll have to work on that.

Another reason for getting things organized today is that I want a long peaceful day to work on the next phase of hoops I need to jump thru in order to be chosen as acquisitions editor for a publishing house. They are impressed with my qualifications and background, but I am one fish in a teeming pond -- or so they say. After this hoop, supposing I actually get thru it without getting stuck or falling on my duff, I have one more hoop to jump thru. I wonder what new torture they will devise. The review sheet is detailed enough and they expect me to be able to do 3 to 4 submissions an hour, including the review. Thank Providence or Talent or someone/something that I type very, very fast or I would be in trouble.

Anyway, I could use a break and I should fix something to eat, but I'm not really hungry and I feel energized. Don't know why, especially since my left shoulder is a bit sore. I guess I'll dive into the market listings and see what kinds of stories and articles and essays I can turn out before tomorrow, always supposing I can actually write something worthwhile. In the meantime, I'll play a little Pyramid and take a deep breath before the plunge thru the hoop.

One more thing . . . have you seen Big Fish? I didn't think I was going to like it, but after I got into it (about two minutes) I found myself walking the fantasy road with the characters. I love Albert Finney and Susan Sarandon, although in a very small part, was quite ingenuous and sweet. It was the story of a many with big dreams and the ability to spin stories around the simple facts of his life that make them magical and special. His son hates the stories and his father's "lies" until he finds out everything he has believed about his father was a mistake. At the center of each story was a big kernel of truth and at the center of the fantasy was the constancy and love of his family who, to him, were reality while everything else was fantasy. Sorry if I'm giving away the plot, but it is a wonderful story. And there have been so many wonderful stories lately, like Life as a House, which I believe should have won more acclaim from critics and the Academy. Kevin Kline has never been more on his game and the story is just wonderful. A simple story of life and fear and estrangement and redemption wound in and around the building of a house and a gift. Made me realize that I don't want to wait until (or if) I'm diagnosed with a terminal illness to realize my dreams or tell the people I love how much I love them. Life is about living and loving and regrets are for never.

Despite coming to Colorado under false pretenses and being cheated and lied to, I have no regrets. I have a wonderful, if quiet, life and I'm happy even with the sword of Damocles hanging over my head. I can either live my life and forget the sword is above me or I can waste my life testing the hair and worrying when it's going to fall. I may die tomorrow or next week, but for now, for this moment, I'm going to wallow in life and live my dreams. I don't want to wait until I'm too old or sick to enjoy them. No time like the present to live. To me, that's what living is for -- living.

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