Lost and Found

The most horrific thing happened the other day.

I was taking a bundle of mail to the post office at the end of the day, nothing out of the ordinary there. The only difference was that on this day I did not have my backpack with me.

My backpack is usually the dwelling place of a half-dozen notebooks that I keep around for writing ideas and bits of writing in. I’ve had most of them for more than a year and they’re starting to fill up.

On this particular day I had only taken one notebook with me to work and I had dutifully carried it back out to the car with me when I left the office. I dropped off the mail, went home and began my evening.

I’m sure you’ve already guessed where my notebook ended up.

At about 8pm I frantically call my wife, who is watching a movie at her sister’s house, and beg her to look through the car for my notebook that is nowhere to be found. She doesn’t find it.

At this point I’m positive that I had accidentally mailed it. The Post Office branch is closed and I’ll have to wait until morning to call.

This is a terrible thing for a writer, at least one like me who relies on a notebook to try and make sense of the constantly changing landscape in my head. The most awful feeling comes from the idea that some of my thoughts are forever lost. The lost potential is the tragedy. Ideas that will never have a chance to grow beyond an inkling.

I’m sure this all sounds terribly dramatic, but it’s the closest I can come to describing what it’s like and why this was such a bad experience.

In the morning, the blasted branch doesn’t answer the phone. And I call. A lot.

By 9:30am I’ve packed the toddler in my car and headed over to the branch in person, hoping against hope that some sensible postal worker saw a loose notebook. When I reach the branch and get to the counter I tell the worker what happened.

“Oh that mail is long gone. On a truck yesterday,” he tells me.

I grit my teeth and decide to push my luck. “Are you sure nobody would have pulled it out. It’s just a loose black notebook with a pink sticky note on the side.”

“I’ll look,” he tells me. He could at least have the decency to act like this is the most exciting thing that’s happening in the Post Office at 10:00am on a Saturday. I watch him sort of half-heartedly shuffle around before he ends up in front of a large shelf with a sizable pile of random looking postal bits.

Then, like a spectacular magician he pulls my notebook from the pile.

“Is this it?”

“Yes!” I fairly screech.

A sleepless night of fervent prayer has paid off and I am once again leading the charmed life I’ve known so far, being better looked after than I deserve. I do, however, need to make some backups of my notebooks.

So there we have it. Experience experienced, lesson hopefully learned. Action planned.


Dueling with Dan Wells

Yesterday, author Dan Wells came through Atlanta on his book tour for Partials.
I knew Dan first as a member of the podcast Writing Excuses and then from his books. We met at Dragon*Con 2010 and had lunch together where he graciously allowed me to pick his brain for writing advice.

Since then he’s come through town twice on book tours and each time I’ve managed to convince him it’s a good idea to have a meal with me.

I don’t have a lot of writing friends, or rather, I should say that all of the writing friends I have are online. There’s something very satisfying about being able to sit down with someone who’s truly interested in the same things that you are and have a good talk. It’s even more valuable when you get to sit down with such a person who is farther along on the career track that you are trying to get started on yourself.

The other thing that has been so cool about getting to know Dan is seeing how authors are such real people. Dan and I didn’t talk about writing the whole time either. We talked about family and food and games. Especially games. Dan and I both love them and after dinner he pulled out his fairly new copy of Flash Duel. We played until the close of the night and I dropped him back off at the hotel.

This is my very favorite thing about the industry of genre fiction writing. You find a lot of competition in most fields but in this one you’re hard pressed to find a professional who isn’t constantly trying to raise up those around him to the same level. Most of them will tell you that it’s because another writer reached out to them when they were new. It’s the kind of pay it forward attitude that I think the whole world could learn a lesson from.

Great Googley Moogley, I’ve Won Another Contest!

Following my previous post, I was informed by another of the authors involved that I had also won a copy of his book as well!

Ari Marmell, the brains behind the contest, will soon be sending me a copy of his YA novel, Thief’s Covenant.