Countdowns and Deadlines – How Time is Not on My Side

WHAT’S PLAYING: Justin Bieber “Baby” (Don’t judge me.)

Time is playing tricks on me. It’s sort of like being trapped in a Dr. Who episode. (Ok, let’s just pause for a moment and reflect on how cool that would be.) As the Doctor would say, “Time has gone a bit wobbly.”  

Consider the Outage. It’s scheduled to end in less than two weeks, but it feels like the 30th will never come. I’m supposed to get my braces off in December, but I suspect that sixty years from now, I’ll still have a mouth full of metal wires and brackets. Then there’s my diet. I’ve been on it about 3 weeks and have cheated six times. (Again, don’t judge me.) I promised myself to stay strong and stick with it until Thanksgiving, at which time I will be free to stuff my face. And again, I’m sure that Turkey Day will never, ever come.

On the other hand, I have deadlines looming over me, each one whispering snarky little comments about how I don’t have a chance in hell of meeting them. I set the goal to finish my novel by the end of the year, and yet I’m still struggling through the second draft. I’m also planning a trip to England next year to attend the Discworld convention, and I want to save up enough money to allow for a pleasant vacation. And yet, the clock keeps ticking and my bank account remains distressingly low, despite the extra bucks I’ve made the last few weeks.

So, you see, time has gone all wobbly. (At least, it has in my head.) I can feel the deadlines breathing down my neck while the things I actually want to happen remain stubbornly out of reach. I suppose I should get used to this feeling of time being out of joint. As a writer, I’ll have to deal with deadlines fairly often.

Let’s face it, there will always be something to look forward to and something to dread. I guess the trick is to focus on the things I can change, like writing a bit every day and being more frugal with money. The other things will come with time – just never soon enough for me.


Mayhem and Foolishness – Life during the Outage

WHAT’S PLAYING:  The Monkees “D.W. Washburn”

We’re halfway through the outage, and I can’t remember ever being this tired. (I’m sure that I have been, I’m just too tired to remember.) Maybe it’s the the six twelve-hour work nights a week, the lack of sleep, the constant press of humanity, or even the new diet. Or maybe it’s the fact that I signed up for not one, not two, but three writing classes, all starting this month.

To borrow – and butcher – a line from Dean Koontz: I must be crazier than a syphilitic suicide bomber with mad cow disease.

Seriously, why would a sane person add three major commitments to an already overloaded schedule? Well, to put it simply: I’m a writer. Think about it. It takes a special kind of insanity to spend months – if not years – sweating and fretting over a project only to send it out into the world to be rejected, mocked, and ripped to shreds. 

Rita Mae Brown said: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.” But that’s exactly what writers do every day. And thank goodness for that. Because if they weren’t persistent to the point of psychopathy, there would be no Harry Potter, Stephen King‘s Carrie, Lord of the Flies, or a dozen other books that have changed the world.  

So, the short answer is that I signed up for these classes because I love writing and want to do it better. I started this blog to connect with people, namely future readers, and I want to deliver stories that will keep them coming back for more. Blog or books, whatever the medium, I want to make my readers think, laugh, feel, and most importantly, keep reading.

Timeout for the Outage

WHAT’S PLAYING: Little Big Town “Boondocks”

Normally, I love my job. The pay is good, the people are great, and the work is interesting. Plus, there’s the warm, tingly feeling that comes from knowing that I help to provide a vital service to millions of people. (Just because I don’t like being around people doesn’t mean that I don’t want to help them.) Most importantly, my job provides me with plenty of time to devote to writing. But every eighteen months, all that is turned on its head. Because that is the time of The Outage.

For those of you not in the nuclear power industry, a refueling outage is a period of time – usually a month or two – when a plant shuts down to take on new fuel and perform maintenance and inspections. An outage generally means three things: 1. More work. 2. Less sleep. and 3. More people. To be honest, I don’t really mind the extra hours. I am getting paid after all. I don’t even mind the extra work. Some of it is pretty interesting. Yet, in spite of the opportunities to expand my knowledge base and the much-needed transfusion of cash into my anemic bank account, I absolutely loathe outages.

Usually, my plant employs about 600 full-time workers. That number doubles during an outage, which means insanely long lines to get in and out of work, a chronic shortage of parking spaces, and zero alone time, not even in the bathroom. Basically speaking, it’s a brief sojourn through my own personal Hell. I’m not really a “people” person under the best of circumstances. Throw in the extra hours, sleep shortage, and the new low carb diet I’m experimenting with, and you have a recipe for mass homicide. (If you laughed at that last line, it’s probably because you think I’m joking.)

My blog posts will probably undergo a steep decline for the next five or six weeks because I want to devote what little free time I’m going to have to writing, and because outages make me ornery. (And, apparently, so do low-carb diets.) I’d rather not lose what few followers I have by posting a nonstop litany of complaints and mean-spirited diatribes. I might pop in now and again with an update, but for the most part, I’ll be suspending my posts until after the outage. But don’t worry, I’ll be back in November with a host of new adventures for all you antisocial writing misfits. And, if you’re willing, I’d love to hear about your own social misadventures in the meantime. Maybe they’ll make me feel better.

Then again, maybe not.

See you in November!