I usually try to be pretty transparent with things online. I know that's maybe not the best thing when you're trying to cultivate an image, but in my experience I've found that people recognize integrity and appreciate it.
So I haven't been living up to my previously stated desire to keep on top of this blog this year. I certainly don't want a repeat of last year, but I'm clearly not back to my trop blogging trim yet, either. I've been feeling like I've been swimming through molasses lately, and I couldn't quite attribute why. There hasn't really been a change in my life circumstances lately.
Then, last week, I had dinner with my good friend and occasional convention partner Elizabeth Corrigan. She asked me why I'd been so stressed lately, and I just started talking, and then, before I knew it, appetizers, dinner, and dessert had all disappeared and I was still speaking. I looked up from the Tower of Power chococlate cake (a tower it was not, I assure you, but I also don't like patronizing the restaurant we had happened to be patronizing that evening, so I won't mention which one it was) and I said, "Wow, that actually sounds like a lot when I say it all out loud."
Elizabeth nodded and said, "Yeah. You don't have to feel bad about being stressed."
So. Let me try to give you a brief(er) recap of that discussion. It may not make for the greatest blogpost, but at least it'll stand as an explanation for why you haven't been getting better blogposts from me lately.
1.) Brian Keene's Injury
As you know (hopefully) my mentor and good friend Brian Keene was badly injured in an accident last month. (You can still help out by visiting the GoFundMe if you so desire.) Brian called me on what he thought was his deathbed to set up that GoFundMe. He later explained that he had been hoping to give me a test run as the exectuor of his literary estate. Well, let me tell you: I have now tasted the merest glimpse of what that's like.
I fielded probably a few hundred texts, e-mails, and PMs regarding Brian's condition in those first few days. I had essentially positioned myself as the go-between between the general public and the Keene estate, and boy was that exhausting. But not the general public. For the most part, Brian's friends who were actual friends knew well enough to leave him alone and bother me instead. And there was only so much I could say because a) I didn't know that much b) privacy and c) public relations. So it was like a double barrelled shotgun to the face of actual publicity management.
But all that was just a small portion of the stress. The real stress was not knowing what was going to happen to my friend, and if he would be all right, or if his minor son would grow up fatherless. As a pleasant coda to this story, I did visit Brian last week and he's back to behaving normally, if perhaps reduced to a half-day schedule for a while until he regains his strength.
2.) Shore Leave
I've only mentioned it once or twice, but I volunteer to organize the Shore Leave author programming. Under the best of circumstances trying to organize 35-odd programming hours with 60-odd participants can be trying. This year we had a rather abbreviated timeline, and I had to put the whole thing together in one month. That month just so happened to be June, just a few days before Brian's injury. So that double-barrelled shotgun of publicity management...well, is there even such a thing as a triple-barrelled shotgun?
3.) Windows 10
A few of you federal employees are already groaning just at that title chyron. At my day job, the Windows 10 upgrade was, shall we say, pushed a bit prematurely. My upgrade came on a Wednesday, which put me out of work for two whole days. That Friday my computer finally seemed to be working. Not so bad, eh? Oh, just you wait, dear reader. Just you wait.
The next Monday I came in to a blue screen of death. It turned out that the Windows 10 upgrade had brought with it an irreparable bug. I turned my computer in and learned that it would not be returned to me for a week. An entire week of lost work. Pretty bad, eh? Oh, just you wait, dear reader. Just you wait.
Tuesday I came in to absolute pandemonium. The bug had been pushed out to no less than 200 users in our enterprise. I'm surprised the whole fucking Navy didn't just come screeching to a halt. All of the loaner computers were gone, as were all of the computers of employees who were on leave. I had made the mistake on Tuesday of using a leave employee's computer and assuming I would be able to grab it again the next day. Nope, all that shit was claimed.
I managed to finagle a highly unfeasible computer sharing system with a co-worker since we worked largely different schedules. It would suck, but it was only supposed to be a week, right?
...my computer finally came back. And they had wiped it clean anyway. So I lost two months of unbacked up files, along with five weeks of marking time. And my computer finally came back in June. A few days after finding out about Shore Leave. And a few days after Brian's accident. So I had to spend the rest of the month attempting to patch together thirteen-odd weeks of lost work.
4.) Family Obligation after Obligation after Obligation
At this point, this is just frosting on the Tower of Power cake, but I made the mistake of proposing Atlantic City to my family for Father's Day. That's a three hour ride out and back for me. So that was an entire lost day. The next week was the graduation of one of my cousins. That time, I decided to go to Philadelphia for a whole weekened in order to break up the two hour drive into more manageable segments. It was less stressful, but still amounted to a lost weekend for writing purposes. Then the week after that was another cousin's wedding, which necessitated another day of driving to Philadelphia and back. Looking back on it, I have no idea why I agreed to all three events. Except, perhaps, that I hadn't yet been slammed by the computer loss, the Shore Leave schedule, and Brian's injury.
So, the upshot is, having had that discussion with Elizabeth made me realize that perhaps this had been a singularly stressful month, and not that I was appreciably losing control of my life and career. So, while there will surely still be some stumbling blocks ahead, I'm hoping to get my head screwed back on straight and get back to bringing you as much quality program as you can stomach here on Manuscripts Burn. See you Monday, everybody!