Blips and Glitches

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The last time I posted, I figured I was well on my way to a triumphant indie launch in early to mid-November. The learning curve was steep, but I was learning. All I needed was to finish the final edit on the book, hire a cover designer, and click through a few more tasks.

And then came Hurricane Isaias.

Depending where you were, Isaias (ee-sa-ee-is)  was a tropical storm, a tropical depression, or something a whole lot rougher. Luckily, it moved fast; that was its most favorable trait.

The weather forecasters on television didn’t seem to know exactly what was coming. The power company really didn’t have a clue. As a result, last Tuesday afternoon came as a shock in my area. We had very little rain and hurricane-force winds that knocked down trees and power lines. In the southwestern part of the state, a tornado touched down. Fully half the state lost electricity, and some people still haven’t gotten their power restored now, nine days later (and in the midst of our fifth heat wave of the year).

I was one of the extraordinarily fortunate ones. I lost three trees, but none of them touched the house or knocked down any wires. More importantly, I only lost power occasionally, for a few hours at a time; I assume the power company had to turn it off to work on a related line. At the other end of my neighborhood, the generators hummed as people cleaned up downed trees and, in a few cases, arranged to have said trees moved off their houses. One neighbor returned from vacation to find that a tree had not only landed on her roof, but its branches punched a hole in the ceiling of her dining room.

Fine,  you say. Other people lost power and internet and had all sorts of hardships, but you got off easy. So why didn’t you keep going with your indie publishing quest?

It’s a fair question. I can only plead distraction, with all the physical and emotional fatigue that goes with it.

Granted, I lost most of Tuesday afternoon watching some trees and branches fall and praying that others wouldn’t. Tuesday evening, my neighbor came over to inspect the damage and give me a price on cleanup. Wednesday morning was one of those times when I lost power for a while. So I should have been back on track by Wednesday afternoon, right?

As it happens, I may have escaped largely unscathed, but my family wasn’t so lucky. My elderly parents lost their power for several days; it wasn’t restored until Saturday evening. Much of Wednesday and Thursday was spent trying to get through to someone who could help to get their power back; turns out that the senior complex where they live isn’t officially designated as such, and so there was no rush to assist all the elderly folks who live there. (Their neighbor, who is on oxygen, had to be moved by ambulance to a hospital until the power came back on.)

In the midst of all this, I had actual billable work to do, if for no other reason than my need to pay my neighbor for his efforts. There was no forgetting this commitment: as I worked, I could hear his chainsaw and his workers’ leaf blowers bringing order from Isaias’s chaos. Plus, I had a client who was leaving for vacation Friday evening and needed a brief before he left. So what little focus I could muster had to be devoted to serving my clients.

Saturday was spent trying to help my parents who (as mentioned above) were still without power. Their home was getting warmer, and there was nothing to be done about it. The power company’s official estimate for restoration was Tuesday at noon. I brought them a cooler full of ice, cold water, and frozen meals they could thaw and cook on their gas stove; I figured that whatever they didn’t eat that day would thaw naturally in the cooler and be ready to cook and eat the next day. In the course of the afternoon, we determined that they needed more lights, and so I ended up running errands to L.L. Bean for camping lanterns and the hardware store for batteries. (A hand-lettered sign at the hardware store proclaimed, “WE HAVE GENERATORS,” but since I’m not an electrician, I wouldn’t have known how to hook one up safely even if I’d had the money to buy it and a car big enough to cart it back to their house.)

By the time I got home on Saturday evening, I was exhausted. An hour later, Mom called to tell me the power was back on. The lanterns and the batteries went down to the basement.

Sunday was spent doing all the things I didn’t do on Saturday, like my own food shopping and laundry. That evening, I roasted a chicken so I wouldn’t have to cook for the rest of the week, and I collapsed on the sofa.

By Monday, the direct effect of Isaias was gone. My neighbor hauled away the last chunks of the fallen trees. All the generators were silent. Peace reigned.

Logically, this should have meant returning to my indie publishing journey, but it was all I could do to concentrate on billable work; I was behind on projects I had originally meant to do last week, and clients were asking for progress reports. Plus, I was still exhausted from the stress of the storm and its aftermath. I couldn’t help but think of all the people in Puerto Rico who spent so long without power after Hurricane Maria—how on earth did they manage anything?  Maybe they’re still exhausted. I wouldn’t fault them for it.

The tide finally turned today. Fortunately, I’d signed up a few weeks ago for a webinar by the brilliant Jane Friedman. This time, she was talking about book marketing. I recommend her seminars and webinars highly. Not only is she incredibly knowledgeable, but her presentations are packed with information. Clearly, she understands that there isn’t a snowball’s chance anybody will be able to take adequate notes, so she sends attendees a plethora of material afterward, including a link to the recording, the slide presentation, and written answers to all the questions asked during the presentation.

And with that, my attention was redirected back to getting my book published. Barring any more crises or other distractions, I still have a good chance of finishing in time for my planned launch in November.

(Note to self: next time, don’t plan a launch for the end of hurricane season.)

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