Monday, March 4, 2019

What to Do When You Can't Do Much - and one Thing not To Do

The advantage of publishing for a number of years is that you can create a lot of busy work. I like to keep my mind occupied. But in the weeks leading up to a surgery (for which I had to travel a substantial distance and stay for a week), my mind focused on that. I did write a couple of chapters of Final Operation (3rd in the Logland series), but not much.

So, while my mind was busy with surgery prep and recovery, I finished editing (9th version at least) Writing When Time is Scarce and made pages of notes for Final Operation. I tweeted some (not enough) and drafted a press release. I did a newsletter. Naps and knee exercises. I did a lot of those.

I also made the biggest mistake of my ten-year publishing career.

Each time I finish working for the afternoon or evening, I email (to two accounts and usually my sister) a copy of what I've done, and save the work on a flash drive. I started this with fiction in the late 1980s, except I had no email and copied files to a floppy disk Every. Time.

As I was leaving Chicago to go home, I didn't email or download the final proof version of Writing When Time is Scarce. No big deal, you say, it's on the computer. Yes, it was. But the computer was in  the mail. I couldn't carry it on the train, so I had sent to the hotel a ten-year old, small Acer computer via USPS. It arrived safely (minus the battery -- never mail a battery) and I used it all week.

I mailed the computer home at the end of the week. When I got home, I realized I had no final proof copy. I told myself to chill. The computer would be with me in two days. No big deal.

Except, it didn't arrive. USPS held it in Chicago for three days, saying the address it was coming to was incorrect. Luckily, I not only had the tracking info, I'd taken a photo of the label. The address (my home) was accurate. I hadn't taken that many pain pills.

My local post office was as helpful as they could be, but they couldn't do much. Did I mention the book was on preorder and final copy needed to be loaded within a week? Yes, this was cutting it close, but the book had been done for weeks, I was simply doing a final read-through.

I went into full panic mode. I'd loaded the most recent version to Amazon and ordered a paper proof, which arrived home before I did. I downloaded the html version from Kindle Preview. Then I reformatted the entire ebook. And then inserted those chapters into the prior version of the paperback. This took more than a dozen hours, but at least I had the correct version of the book. I had found several typos to fix, so I needed the most recent version.

Two lessons here. Always remember to send and download those backup copies. And never do anything important when taking mind-altering drugs. Oh, the computer did arrive -- one week late.

Now it's time to practice what I preach, which is to get back on task. For me, that means work on fiction. And double check everything else I wrote when taking those pills.
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