August is slowly heralding the later stages of summer, this is the last week that some people might be able to go off and do something before summer ends and school begins. For some it's a chaotic time, others they feel a rush to enjoy what they feel they've missed all summer—whatever that may be.
Going back to Fall semester driving for Huskie Line/NIU, for me, is just another day, except I'll be driving only 4 hours, and not 6. Plus my husband will be with me—my partner in life & best friend. I've got a Baby-Boomer birthday coming up next week... I'll only say I've got one more year to be fifty-something, and then I'm looking at how I'll get through to retirement without going absolutely bananas—no, not my age, age has nothing to do with my panic— about finding something less stressful to do, while I ease into the retirement age, and yet make some money.
I've been with this company for 14 years. When we went to our bid meeting last week I knew they were going to give an award to at least one of our drivers who had been there for some time—longer than me—but I thought, yeah, maybe I'll get something too. No one told me that was going to happen, it was my precognition working. I was right. The top 3 people who had been there longest got the Million Miles Award (I am third in seniority). This was not only how long we'd been driving, but driving without any accidents. Going accident free where people who walk in front of your bus, drive like lunatics, and people on bikes or skateboards believe they are made of rubber, you wouldn't think it possible to not have something bad happen. So many people milling around on a college campus with 16 buses driving around is recipe for disaster—you would think. But Huskie Line has never hit a pedestrian since they started up in 1971. Having been driving a 12 ton bus for so long, several hours in the day, I see lots of opportunities where someone should have been in a crash (I'm not involved, but others are), but it was narrowly avoided and I don't know how. I've had this crazy notion that my being there using some sort of psychokinesis powers can only explain how someone missed another in such a near miss (sort like Samantha Stevens in Bewitched ). I've had times where someone has actually ran stop lights and signs and stopped in time to not hit my bus, or I, having known something might happen, kept from moving the bus into the line of its trajectory. You get this wonderment inside you, and think, yeah that could have happened, but it didn't. When I'm out there on the busy 4-lane, having to change lanes, I've got nerves of steel, I'm in a zone where I know exactly where my bus is at all times, and where the cars around me are—I call it the “Zen of Driving a Bus”--and have eased that 32 footer in between two cars perfectly, and have had someone suddenly break and make a crazy-ass move right in front of me and I dodge them with some sort of mysterious buffer zone. No panic, like I said. Just nerves of steel.
The achievement in driving a bus for that long w/o an accident was nice. I just framed the certificate—which is made of very thick fancy paper and has my name on there, plus we all got a bronze belt buckle proclaiming the same with our name and so forth on it. Awards like this come along once in a lifetime when you work somewhere for a long time (GAK!). Ah, if only I had a quarter for every dang mile, I'd be able to retire, easily, in a few years.
In the writing world, there are no awards handed out. Sometimes you get great reviews, and that feels good. But in what you accomplish as a writer, you almost have to invent an award to yourself. How many words you think you've written in your life time? Writing mss. over and over counts too. Back in the day you had to begin at the beginning the rewrite. It's not like that today with the computer where you can change whole lines and take out whole sections, and you still have a mss. in tact more or less.
I began writing way back in 1971. During my college years I wrote like a crazy person—usually by hand, and only once I had the first draft did I type it. I remember hauling all my writing from the 20 years I lived at home from my father's house—hundreds of pages stacked up inside 3 paper grocery bags—I'm not a math expert, but if typed, usually a page held around 300 words at an average. I'm not sure but those bags would have easily held 1,000 pages or maybe 3,000 pages, I don't know. I should have figured it all out. But in the 40 years I've been writing now, I'm sure I've written about 10million words easily. If I were able to do up an award certificate for myself I think that's what I would call it.
Since publishing was impossible for me, I can say how many books I should have had under my belt, but it would have been twenty, easily. My publisher (Sabrina Strong Series), has quit the business, and so now I'm going Indie. It's just as well, since I had found a lot of mistakes in the last book he published, (Vampire Nocturne) including placing the wrong title on the binding of the paperback. I've sold the last three copies this weekend to relatives—telling them that's a real collector's copy with the booboo on the spine. I've yet to get the document read over, make any corrections I need, and send it off to my formatting man, John GillJohn Gill. I'm very lucky to have been able to hold on to all my book's covers.
This summer has had me working forward two steps and having to take five back. When I thought I would have just had to deal with 2 books, I'm dealing with 5! I've had so little time to do much, but I made time to enjoy my summer. I've taken walks, I've sat and watched TV or movies with my husband, and I sit and read a book in the evening. I decided very little will be accomplished this year, I don't even know if I'll get the 4th book in the Sabrina Strong Series out before the end of the year as there's just too much to do with it and I'm still working on these other books that I've got to get out on my own.
Maybe we, as writers, all need to consider how long we've been at this writing stuff and pat ourselves on the back. I'm not expecting to make any serious money with anything I write. I don't know what will be accomplished there—probably nothing. But I can't stop writing. And if I can continue to put it out there on my own, I will into the next 20 years or so I can still do this. I'll probably slow down some, but I figure the next 4 books in the Sabrina Strong Series are written. I've also got a sequel for Spell of the Black Unicorn—called Spell of Dark Castle written, but I don't have time to work on it right now. I've had my niece ask me about the sequel, and that was a nice thing to know that someone is looking forward to reading it. If someone's willing to read my work, that's all I care. I spent those first many years not having the opportunity to have anyone want to read it, or publish it, but now that I can, I'll do so.