Panic Stations!

I often wonder why it is that my life is so chaotic. I mean, I am pretty organised. Ask anyone who really knows me and they will tell you that I am a planner. I think ahead. I make lists. I make lists of my lists. When it comes to special events I start to make plans weeks, even months in advance. Yet, somehow, at the last minute, everything always seems to go to pieces.

Take last week for instance. The deadline was looming large for the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme and my manuscript had to be in for the 31st August.  Now, I had given up on the idea of sending my novel in because it was in such a state of chaos that I couldn’t think straight any more. Then, as I have told you on a previous occasion – I do hope you were paying attention – I met up with two lovely fellow members and they persuaded me to give it a go.

‘Just send a partial in, if you must, but send something. What have you got to lose?’

Well, turns out, the best part of summer and what was left of my sanity but hey ho. I went home fired up with enthusiasm and stubbornly determined that if I was going to send something in, it was going to be complete. So I chained myself to the laptop (not literally, you understand, that would just be silly) and got on with it.

I spent weekend after weekend, early mornings and even some evenings after work trying to get it ready and finally, I decided it was time to let it go. So, time to print it off. A quick call to DH and sit back and wait for him to bring my printer to me. Except….on Bank Holiday Monday morning came the message. “Is there supposed to be a mains lead with this thing?” Well, er, yes. How else do I connect it up to the electricity supply? Panic set in. ‘Don’t worry,’ he said, ‘give me half an hour and I’ll fix it.’

So I waited half an hour. Then came the next message. ‘The shops don’t stock it. You have to send away for it.’

Well, guess what? I had no time to send away for it. I needed to get it printed and posted – fast. DH (bless him) sent out an urgent message on Facebook to see if anyone could lend him a printer. Thankfully, three people responded but two of them lived a long way away. One, however, was close, so we shot round to collect it and came face to face with the oldest printer I have ever seen in my life. I seriously wondered if it had actually been invented before the first computer. Still, it was very kind of the person to lend it to me and so I took it home and began printing.

The novel was 450 pages long. I started printing at 3.20pm. I sat in stunned silence watching the slow chug, chug, chug of the printer as it seemed to hammer out each letter individually. The clock ticked. DH went home. I let the dogs out. DD2 and partner went to bed.  The clock carried on ticking. I propped my eyelids open with matchsticks and wished I’d thought to stock up with coffee.

On the plus side I managed to watch the Coronation Street omnibus, Trollied, and an episode of Restoration Home set in Hull that I’d been meaning to watch for ages. The Sky planner now has more free space so it’s not all bad. And finally, at 2.15 am page 450 was printed and I could print two copies of my synopsis. Done!

Unfortunately, by the time I’d done that, filled in the green form and sorted out everything else it was almost 3 o’ clock in the morning before I fell into bed. I then had a driving lesson at 9 and a 7 hour shift at work starting at 11. After my lesson, we flew to the post office to send my precious parcel off only to find a queue outside the door. Panicking and sweating I kept looking at my watch as the queue seemed to stay static for simply hours! Eventually, I reached the counter and the woman behind it weighed it for me and groaned.

‘£15.10,’ she informed me. I nearly fell over. Paying that once was bad enough but I had to pay it three times over!! Once to send it to the organiser, once for her to send it to the reader, and once for the reader to send it back to me. Dear God. I didn’t have more than £34 on me so I had to leave it in the capable hands of DD2’s partner and head into work, fingers crossed that she would carry out my instructions, which I had written down for her and then told her at least three times on the way into the office.

Finally, an hour later she sent a text to me to inform me that she had done it, and the parcel was on its way. Great. All I had to do now was wait for the acknowledgement. The acknowledgement! Oh yes. It came to me in the early hours of the morning that, in spite of all my careful planning and double checking,  I had forgotten to put a stamp on the acknowledgment! Luckily, the lovely organiser took pity on me, obviously sensing my senility and emailed me to assure me that she had received it.

So now I sit back and wait and rest and recover. I have never been so exhausted in all my life. But at least I learned three valuable lessons.

  1. Buy a new printer – a cheaper, faster, laser one and keep it safely in my room, under lock and key if necessary.
  2. Write shorter books. £15.10!! Still in shock.
  3. Make absolutely sure that I don’t wait until the end of August next year to send my manuscript in to the NWS. I don’t think I can go   through all this again!

Have a great week xx

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