Apologies for missing last week. I was busy losing my job 🙂
Don’t worry – I knew it was about to come (and I did still have it last Friday) – the online ESL industry in China has just collapsed almost completely. We’ve had the rug pulled and lost students, schedules, and paycheques in one midnight swipe. This coincided somewhat impressively with a two wek window that included the deadline for my MA assignment (4500 words, give or take), a pushlising deadline (Getting A Diet of Death as ready as I could before it goes to the editor), a promise I’d made to proofread another CJM’s 2022 debut author’s amazing book, and my daughter needing to collect her A level results, decide on, and accept, her university place.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that was quite enough to be going on with.
But it wasn’t. I finally finished proof-reading Henry’s book, (at about midnight on Friday) but before I even had time to check that off my list, I made the mistake of checking my emails one last time before bed.
Which was the exact moment I remembered I’d signed up for ‘Novel in a Day’.
Don’t panic! I didn’t have to write the ENTIRE novel. Just a well-written, well-edited, minimum of 1500 words as one complete chapter. Between midnight and 8pm.
Usually, this is immensely good fun. The way it works is that we sign up long enough ahead that some of us (okay, me) forget all about it. Then, at exactly midnight GMT, all participants are emailed their chapter brief and necessary (but scant) supporting information.
“Ah,” said a friend, “you don’t have to DO it though, do you.”
Except I kind of did, as without my chapter, the book won’t hang together. It’s not the absolute end of the Novel-in-a-Day world to not do it, but it means that an alternative chapter will be subsititued – there are usually enough particiaplnts to create several versions of the novel, and if one person pulls out, or doesn’t meet the deadline, there is usually a second, third, fourth version of the same chapter, but it’s not in the spirit of the day to substitute, or pull out without notice, and it means that there is an overlap of content between the different versions. And extra work and stress for the organisers.
Since on Saturday, I did still have a job, I could only start on this chapter after I finished teaching and grabbed some lunch. About 3pm. The deadline for submission is 8pm. 5 hours to read the brief, research my chapter, and write and edit a minimum of 1500 well-written words. No pressure.
I shoved aside thoughts of my due-on-Thursday-morning assignment. I shoved aside ‘I haven’t told my publisher the findings of my proof-read.’ I shoved aside the impending axe of doom hanging over my job. And wrote almost 3,000 words, edited them, and had it submitted not only before the deadline but 90 minutes before the deadline. And that felt so good!
To be honest, it was probably the best thing I could have done that afternoon as it stopped my brain from trying to decide which other deadline/crisis to focus on.
Monday daytime was lost to work and work panic and frantic gathering of contacts and discussion of ‘What to do from here?’ Monday evening was swallowed by ‘Gotta get this assignment done.’ I gave up on it at 1 am.
Tuesday, luckily, I only had two classes scheduled. Much frantic assignment tweaking before and after those classes got the assignment submitted sometime into the evening, and comfortably before the Thursday deadline.
Wednesday, I taught 5 hour-long classes on the bounce, then sorted those proofing comments. That was not straightforward, as my Kindle had decided to wipe all the notes I’d made.
And then, assignment in, proofs done, final edit on A Diet of Death sent off (don’t ask when I did that, I can’t remember anymore), contacts gathered, classes still ticking along, university acceptance done and deposit sorted. Feet up, pressure off, right?
Nope. Because at about midnight in China, myself and my colleagues watched in disbelief and amazement as our schedules got wiped. Every single class, every single teacher, every single schedule. So that kicked off a non-stop traffic-jam of notifications and messages and speculations. I did what any sensible person would have done and took the dogs for a walk.
By Thursday (thank goodness I’d that assignment submitted!) I woke to a barrage of messages from parents, students, and colleagues. And I mean a barrage. Many of them in Chinese. Thank goodness I’d got that assignment in. Oh, and I had an interview scheduled for 10 am too. And I did the final, fianl, final edits for Dear Isobel yesterday after that.
And now, it’s Friday and all of that seems like weeks ago. So that’s the unfolding saga of why I didn’t write a blog last week.
My plans for the week ahead are to take the weekend off. This, after 3 years of working every weekend is a silver lining. I suppose I should use it to tidy my house. Or make time to read the novel I wrote my chapter for.
Oh. And I was just tranferring the photos from my phone so I could share some, and I have accidentally managed to delete over 1000 photos. Which apparently I should be able to retrieve via the ‘Recently Deleted’ folder, except I don’t seem to have such a thing. So no photos today either. Maybe wine instead.