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

6 thoughts on “Panic Stations

  1. £15 – ouch! Mine was £6.65 but then I only sent a partial 😦

    Well done though for getting it done, it’s a great relief. It’s also an idea of writing to a deadline will be like in future.



    • Hi, Sue! As horrific as it was I do think that having the deadline did me the power of good. It really made me focus and stop procrastinating (something I am a master of!) and made me sit down and put in the hard work. Now we’ll just have to see if it was all worth it 🙂 Good luck with yours and thanks so much for dropping by and leaving a comment. You have been so supportive of this blog. Much appreciated x


  2. Well done, Sharon!!! You’ve done brilliantly.

    It wasn’t so expensive to send a ms nearly twenty years ago when I was first on the NWS (yikes, is it really that long ago?!). Seems to me, with all the technology around these days, though, there ought to be a more environmentally friendly and simpler way of going about it. Documents can easily be transferred to Kindles/ipads/tablets/laptops etc. and read on those, with notes made if necessary along the way. Saving some trees, and money spent on ink and postage and goodness knows what else. Might even save someone’s back from being put out, lugging a load of mss around!

    Am I being radical for even suggesting this, do you think? 😉


  3. Twenty years! Crikey, you must have been about five 🙂
    Radical? You? You’re a total rebel! I do agree it would be so much easier to send it electronically, but apparently most of the readers prefer a hard copy. I was mortified at the post office counter when I didn’t have enough on me. Forty five pounds thirty for three lots of postage! I really hope I get back something more than “Don’t give up the day job” lol. Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment. It’s been quiet without you! x


  4. Haha, quiet? Does that imply I am ‘loud’? Seriously, I wish you every success with your book, Sharon, you deserve it after all the hard work.

    Personally, my house is so chaotic and busy and crammed with kids’ stuff I wouldn’t have the space for piles of mss if I were a NWS reader. I have my favourite books on shelves but these days I only tend to read Kindle copies – unless a physical book is lent to me – because I can’t cope with any more clutter. (This is where I get shot down for insinuating a book is clutter. How very dare I…) But what I mean is, it takes up space, whereas my Kindle hardly takes up any room at all. I get the same pleasure out of the reading experience, and I can make notes on my Kindle without scribbling in the margins. Mind you, a year and a half ago, I was one of those who would never get on with an eReader and eBooks, or any of those newfangled devices… How fast we fall 😉


  5. I always said I couldn’t imagine anything worse than a Kindle or any kind of eReader. I love everything about books – the smell, the feel, the look of them. I am never happier than when browsing in a book shop. Like you, though, space was the big issue. I have had to give away boxes of precious books to charity shops because I just didn’t have the room for them. The Kindle seemed like the ideal solution and I was amazed how quickly I grew to love it. I love how “instant” it all is. See a book you like, click and there it is, ready to read. However, I have been thinking lately that it is has a major downside or two. Firstly, I perhaps don’t think as much about what books I’m actually buying. If I had to go to a bookshop or even order online but wait for delivery, I think I’d be much more discerning about which books to choose. Secondly, lately I have developed a real longing to hold a physical book in my hand again. I love looking at the cover, something you don’t really get a sense of with ebooks. I would never part with my Kindle – in fact, I am going to upgrade to a Kindle Fire – but I do think real books are becoming more appealing to me again. And I am definitely going to try to limit the amount I keep buying. It really is getting ridiculous. I will never have time to read the ones I already have! 😉


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