Sunday, July 26, 2020

Lessons from A Spilled Coffee Pot

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

In my home office, one of my first actions of the day is to turn on my coffee pot and brew some coffee.  Yet today it bubbled and gurgled and spilled.  My coffee pot was a little off kilter and not in the place to catch the coffee so it backed up, spilt and made a general mess.

To prepare for the moment I'll turn on my coffee pot, the day before I add the water, put in the filter and the grounds so it is ready for me to turn it on and brew the coffee.  It has rarely happened but this morning, I had a mess on my hands—and a choice. I could react with anger and disappointment or calmness and just clean the mess. I cleaned up the mess.

I'm writing this story because I see comparisons to my life as a writer and editor. Sometimes there are messes:

-authors don't deliver what they are supposed to deliver to publishers.

-authors deliver late—many authors miss their deadlines and are notoriously date with their manuscript.

-authors that I expect to sign their contract, go in a different direction.

-the books are not selling. If you have purchased books and they are not selling, then this situation can be a mess and disappointing for authors.

-the writing is not working and storytelling is not good and needs rewriting. Yes you are putting words on your page but they are not the right words and basically create a mess.

-your computer isn't working right or you have some other website glitch. 

The potential list is endless. Each time I have choices how I respond—disappointment or calmness and acceptance. I recommend calmness because the results and outcome are much better.

These days are strange with hard economic times for some, sickness and even death for others. Yet our lives as writers and storytellers are important and vital to keep going. It is a choice to stop and do something else. For my life, I know I am called to this work and continue it—the good and the bad.

The Details Matter

Yesterday I needed to call one of my authors and talk about an editorial issue. I took her phone number from her signature—and it did not connect. I double checked the number in other emails—same. I finally looked at her proposal which had a different number. When I tried that number I got an answering machine and left a message. Two numbers were reversed. When I spoke with this author later in the day, I told her about the error in her email signature (which goes out in every email). She appreciated my telling her about this detail. In her next email, it was fixed.

I'm learning every day —important lessons about life and publishing. I hope you are as well. In the comments, let me know some of your lessons.


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