A New Life in Seattle

A New Life in Seattle
August, 2018

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Day My House Was Set on Fire: Conclusion

When my laptop crashed on 12/8 I lost the near-completed but unsaved third Boss MacTavin novel. Luckily, I did find a second draft saved on a flash drive earlier last year. I'd gone through many drafts since then, but my decision was simple: abandon the book entirely--or try to recover the lost book through the miserable earlier draft. I donned my green visor, rolled up my sleeves and got down to work.

And now...
Nearly two months later I'm close to completing recovery. Much proofing and tweaking remain. But I want to share with you the process of recovery and tell the main lessons I learned. Here we go!

Key obstacles
1) Computer time was limited to free sessions in the library: two 1-hour sessions with occasional short extensions. Libraries here close at 8 p.m. weekdays, 5 p.m. on weekends. Within these sessions I also had to squeeze at least a little Web work so I didn't entirely lose my presence here or on Facebook and Twitter.
2) I could not afford to repair my laptop for about two months, so I had to make my free computer sessions count and devise a strategy to reduce my typing time.
3) Memory is imperfect. I had to accept the cold fact that I could never recall, word for word, the book I'd come close to perfecting. I could remember key changes in plot,timeline, character...good quips and memorable phrases...etc. But I'd still have a different book. I could only do my best to make sure the new version rocked.

1) I printed out the second draft and worked as I had before there were computers: going through each page over and over again. In this way, I leapfrogged from second to sixth draft before I began to retype.
2) I took my time, removing any thought of deadline fever. I accepted a setback of four to five months, allowing for proofing and tweaking.
3) Using the hard copy, I worked anywhere and whenever I could--once again, as I had when a boy.
4) I put off repairing the laptop for now until I'd bought a Kindle Fire--using library computers for typing only and the Fire for online work and play in any place with free wi-fi.

1) I prefer working, in the early drafts, from hard copies and will continue to do so.
2) I'm more resourceful and stronger than I'd thought. No whining. No cussing. I'd messed up and I did what needed doing to fix that mistake.
3) Recovering forced me to re-examine every word--something that grows harder as we go from draft to draft.
4) The freedom from deadline fever is a blessing I don't want to lose. Not ever again. I will never rush my work.

And oh, yes, the huge lesson:

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Coming tomorrow! An Adventure Concludes.

Tune in tomorrow for Part 3, the conclusion, of The Day My House Caught Fire.

The recovery of my lost manuscript has nearly been completed and I'll tell you what I learned--besides the importance of Saving our work!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Reflections on a Photo Shoot: Part 1

You can find my account of the photo shoot--a two-year journey to the shoot--on Authors Electric, clicking on this link:


You'll find some classic author photos, plus one gross example of what not to do. Part 2 will describe the actual shoot and post the final pictures, selected from 200.


Monday, January 13, 2014

Reb MacRath, Action Manifester: Flash Bulletin #5

Two days after the last Flash Bulletin, my laptop crashed--resulting in the loss of a completed but unsaved manuscript. In two more days I'd planned to send it to my beta readers for their feedback and an early spring release.

Luckily, I did find a saved second draft on a flash drive. This would have been at least six months old and the novel would have gone through a half-dozen drafts since then. But, compared with the alternative--abandoning the book altogether--the blessing, to me, seemed rich beyond compare. I dried my eyes, rolled up my sleeves and got down to work.

Since then:
--I have sent the first 120 'recovered' pages to my beta readers--completed using library computers in 1 hour sessions.
--I have nearly completed recovering the remainder, working in long hand on a hard copy from the flash drive. Am typing 3-5 pages a day.
--With the loss of the laptop, I lost my online connections and my Kindle reader app, except for short library sessions. Decision: Before repairing the laptop, I'll buy a Kindle Fire on 1/24 to regain those necessary powers. And I'll continue using library computers to type.
--A long-planned photo shoot took place in December, thanks to a generous offer of help from a California artist who'd read of my plight. The 200 photos taken have been culled to six....which I'll use within the next couple of weeks to replace existing shots here and on Facebook, Twitter, Amazon.
--The artist repeated a suggestion from years ago: that I search for freelance proofing assignments with advertising agencies, etc. I have the background but needed the repeat nudge. I'll begin the search this month.
--This work, in turn, will help finance the move to Seattle later this year--and could be regarded as existing employment when I arrive there.

So I enter 2014 with rekindled faith and a strengthened sense of synchronicity: the crashed laptop, the photo shoot, the chance of proofing for excellent pay, the move--all of these things came together from what first seemed like total disaster.