Thursday, March 31, 2011

Lost and Found

My manuscript is done! I finally found the time, solitude and inspiration to finish the novel...and then I lost it.

Now I don't mean I had an emotional breakdown or I lost my creative energy or even that I deleted a few pages of the book. I physically lost the whole stinking thing.

As every great tale of woe begins, it all started when I was sent to Chicago for training classes. Generally these meetings are brutal ten hour affairs, but I brought along the manuscript just in case I had some free time in the evenings. After all I was closing in on the final chapters. However, this meeting went very differently and on the second day of class we finished at noon.

I scurried off to my room and placed the do-not-disturb sign on the door, breaking my train of thought for fresh towels was not part of the plan. Five hours later I found myself typing the words 'The End'. I swear I heard actual hosannas being sung down from the heavens. Or maybe that was just coming from my phone when I called home. Regardless, the Harris family was doing the happy dance.

I should say we were doing the happy dance. Let's skip forward a few days to when I'm in O'hare airport ready to return home. I've just checked my suitcase and the polite young man at the counter wishes me a safe flight when I reach for my carry-on. I have no carry-on.  The feeling is akin to losing sight of your child while shopping, but I know my bag is not going to pop out from behind a rack of clothes. People around me are beginning to look concerned that I'm going to be ill, that's entirely possible because by now I've realized that I left my backpack on the shuttle bus to the airport and I have not one contact number to begin a search.

Thank heavens for the ability to search the Internet from your phone. I begin by calling my hotel, but they didn't set up the shuttle service my company did. Start over. Call some of the other members of my class to see if they have the head trainer's contact information. No one does, but they'll text me if they find it. Start over. At this point it is after six o'clock on Friday evening and my flight boards in two and half hours. I'm not a crier by nature, my husband could probably count on two hands all of the times he has seen me cry, but I was about to break down sobbing right there in the airport. In desperation I start calling random shuttle companies. Sounding like a lost soul while traveling brings out the helpful side in people, one operator even had me describe the bus so she could ask the drivers what company it might be.

Finally I catch a break and a text with a contact number. I reach the head trainer who finds my predicament very amusing. He thinks I left a suitcase on the shuttle. Really? Do people often dash into airports without their luggage? At least I left a black backpack on a black floor and I did have a purse, bottle of water and a suitcase to carry while I was rushing to catch an earlier flight. We both call the shuttle company and guess what? It's after five and they're closed for the weekend. I vehemently refuse to leave Chicago with out my bag. Not only is the flash drive that my novel is saved on in that bag, with my writing journal I might add, but my corporate laptop is also in that bag. Well that lights a fire under chuckles. He tells me to sit tight he knows a guy that knows a girl that has a cell phone number.

Twenty minutes later we have success and faillure. The shuttle has been found and the driver pulled over and located my bag. Again the heavens open and the angels sing! However, the bus is on its way to a pick-up in Milwaukee and my bag won't be back in the Chicago area until after midnight. I've never been so tempted to hop a cab to Milwaukee. Voices of reason intervened and a representative from the shuttle company assured me they would overnight the bag to me.

Like leaving my fourth child behind I drug myself through security and boarded the plane. Coming home is always lovely, but I was not settled until that box arrived.

Is it appropriate to hug the FedEx guy?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

I've Been Outed

For the past two years I have kept a secret. I've indulged in this secret during peaceful lunch breaks and in the quiet hours of the night after children are tucked in bed, lunches are packed and laundry is folded. It is such a closely guarded secret that the few souls that know of it have made blood oath promises to throw themselves upon a thousand sharpened daggers should they ever speak of it. Well...they at least promised to buy me shoes.

All that changed when I attended a simple scholarship charity event. Somehow by the end of the day I had been photographed and interviewed by the local newspaper and my excruciatingly carefully guarded secret was about to be published in a three county area. I am a closet writer. For two years I have been laboring on my first novel and at just over 80,000 words it's almost complete. At least until the re-write begins.

There it's out in the open, but why stop there? Since I'm coming out of the closet might as well go full on drag queen right? So I've decided to start a weekly blog following the often humorous sometimes disasterous tales of my circus routine life, that includes juggling family, church, work and chasing my dream of becoming a published author. You probably won't have to look to hard to find a bit of yourself in this column and that's what is all about...we're not alone, somebody else has been in your boat too. So I hope you enjoy my stories about trying to keep all my balls in the air and the trials and triumphs of writing a book.

Happy Reading