Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Run Down by a Bus

What happens if you get run down by a bus?

Do you have all of your work completed? Could you finish up any contracted work if you were suddenly laid up for a month or more? Do you have your work and supplies organized so that someone could come in and find one item from all of the others if you couldn't get there to do it?

If not you are neglecting one of the most critical aspects of real professional work.

We are all born invulnerable. As we grow we realize or maybe not that we are not bullet proof.

That's maturity sneaking in and it happens to almost all of us sooner or later.

But the real issue is if it hasn't happened t you your work is at risk.

So what are you going to do about it?

Well sticking your head in the sand is one answer, It isn't a very good one and it will do nothing if that meteor hits and wipes out all life on this planet but it is one way of dealing with things. But if you aren't an ostrich, maybe you should start working on a plan to have things set up so that if you get knocked down you can get back to work as soon as you can fight your way free of the Croakers.

First finish up all of those projects that are sitting around in various stages of unfinished. Yes, I know you will get back to them and finish them up just as soon as you get a free minute. But that's the problem, waiting around for those free minutes makes you a target for cruel, unreasoning fate.

I know all about it. Starting a new project is wonderful. The idea bubbles up and catches fire and all you can think of is getting started and bringing the babie to life.

But like all babies it cries and wets and demands attention and unlike the real babies you can just put in in a drawer and for get about it. the real ones are protected by law. The babies of our imagination aren't so lucky.

I hate editing. for one thing it is almost impossible for a writer to edit their own work. You see the brain is a tricky devil. When you read something you have written you read it right no matter what is on the paper. Now there are a coupla ways to deal with this. One you can toss it in a drawer and forget about if for a year or so so that you don't remember what it written any more and you actually have to see the words to read the page. This is really a good way to find mistakes but it ignores the deadlines we all have to live with.

You could beg, coerce. blackmail and threaten your pals until they agree to read the thing and make corrections. Of course you have to be pretty sure they they did not sleep through all of fourth and fifth grades and actually have an understanding of the Black Arts: Grammar and Spelling. That can be tricky and then you have the problem of perspective, If they don't like and read the genre you are writing in they may not have anything worthwhile to contribute.

I was once a member of a critique group in a suburban city which shall remain nameless but was an enclave of "white-flight" refugees form the horrors of the inner-city and thus filled with well meaning but slightly off kilter notions of diversity and equality and the thoughtful criticisms I received were directed at my lack of inclusiveness and overly Caucasian point of view. Now my story was set in the early nineteen thirties in a major inner-city underworld where there were no minorities nor would they have been tolerated if there had been but why let a little thing like historical perspective intrude on social perspective. I left that group having no hope of  ever receiving anything useful. So you do have to be cautious.

Now the writers I admire and respect always seem to have an untiring cadre of people willing to act as readers and I wish the hell they would tell me where they are. My writing pal, High Priestess of the Black Arts: Grammar and Spelling took one look at my work and ran screaming from the computer. So even if you find someone with the skills they may not have the martyr's personality and have enough good sense to get the flock outta Dodge.

So finding someone to give you good and accurate feedback is hard to come by. That's why it is always easier to start new projects than it is to finish old ones. Those pesky details get in the way and before you know it you are facing real work.

And think of how much more daunting it would be if someone had to come in and try to make sense of something you started and didn't finish before that meteor strike.

Organize your work. Yes, I know everything you do is completely original and there is no way to categorize true original work. But for the sake of your own peace of mind you'd better. That way the Long Sufferin' or some other poor schnook can come in and find that piece you were going to enter in the Fifty-fourth annual frog portrait and lily pad show in Petaluma.

Keep your work space clean. Yes, i know you have far too much to do anyway and that sort of thing is why you left ties and 9 to 5 far behind but it is important for the people who come in behind you to be able to navigate through the piles and the heaps to find what you sent them in after in the first place.

And do it today! You aren't guaranteed tomorrow. Better do it while you have the time and not try to transmigrate the astral planes if you are having an out of body experience.

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