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Too Long. Too Short. Too Much Muchness.

My inner-logician nudges me to score things. Is *it* good or is it bad? Did *this* work, or did *that* work?

It’s tough when life-events that beg to be scored defy easy categorization.

The Cliff’s Notes reads as follows: Cancer Dad beat colon cancer. Four months later dad had a kidney blockage and CAT scans discovered metastatic cancer in his lungs. Okay. A non-smoker who just got done being cooked and chemo-ed into a crisp gets lung cancer four months after getting a clean Bill of Health. Right. Uhm… What?!?

It’s just weird. Seven years ago I wrote about a young character who was struggling with his father’s terminal illness. Six months ago I resurrected that story to rewrite it. Now I’m living it. Life imitates art in the most sucktastic way.

Two days after getting the devastating news about metastatic cancer, my mother went into an extended hospital stay for removal of an abdominal mass.  Not cancer, but doctors had to remove organs and sections of other organs and sew her digestive system back together in a way that God never intended for guts to be connected.

Mom and Dad can’t work out a strategy for their future when both of them are in a drugged stupor in two different hospitals across town. My brother and I are driving a circuit between two hospitals and their homestead (in the country) to take care of their cat, bring in the mail, chase drifters out of the outbuildings, etc. I’m catching up with all my podcasts as I’m perpetually on-the-road.

MBW and I are closer than ever to a major life-changing event(s).  I’m excited. I’m terrified.

I finished a new novel. Kind of. I realized that the manuscript I’ve been dribbling out over the past year was shaping up to be another unpublishable epic. Way too long for a breakthrough novel. Too far outside the lines of the Agent’s Coloring Book.  Plus it defies genre, so it is DOA. So… I broke the plot into two hard beats, the way a season of episodic television would end: Not a cliffhanger, but just shy of it.  I’ve begun writing the sequel/conclusion. I can’t pitch the first manuscript until I have the conclusion in the can. It’ll force me to give the setup novel time to get cold so I can edit it mercilessly in a few months.

My terrible vampire novel was 150,000 words. That word count equates to a trilogy of three short novels (the way it was designed, for online distribution). So how do I score that when I’m counting how many novels I’ve written? One or three? Have I written ten novels or twelve? After I finish this sequel will I have written ten novels or fourteen?

ANSWER: “Nobody fucking cares, Shawn.”

Yep. Got it.  Stack fourteen unpublished novels on one side of the scale, and a published 26-page gift shop book of pictures of cats eating pasta on the other side of the scale. Pull back your hand and THUNK! Pasta Cats all the weigh.  I mean “way.”

What little free time I have is all bookmarked for finishing home improvement projects so we are ready to put the house up for sale in the event that I get transferred.

You know that feeling you get when your plane is descending about a half-hour before wheels-down? The hiss from the air vent above your head goes asthmatic and quiet. Your ears pop. Your blood tingles. You feel light and uneasy. You can’t do anything productive because the Flight Attendants have prematurely banished your electronic devices. All you can do is float. Wait. Float. Wait. Float.

Yeah. That’s my life these days. Waiting on my parents, waiting on my agent, waiting on my dreams.

I’m waiting on the bounce and the squeal of rubber; that deceleration whiplash making it official that I didn’t plummet to my death over an irrigated circle of cotton field and instead I must rejoin the hive of my fellow Earth bees, the frenetic resumption of business.

One day I’ll have my turn in the CAT scanner and it will all come to a screeching halt. Until then, I’ve got places to go.


  • Dane Tyler

    October 22, 2015 at 2:40 pm

    I’m sorry for your parents and their situation, Shawn. It’s a tough row to hoe, Bud. I’ll say a prayer – or two, or three – for you, and them.

    May the waiting be less painful and the Sabbath at the end of the wait worth waiting for. We’ll be here when you come up for air.

    Oh, and congrats on that new book completion. I envy your output! I bet you outline, don’tcha? 😉

  • Vanessa

    October 26, 2015 at 12:20 pm

    Aw hell, Shawn. I’m so sorry about your parents. I’ll pray for their healing, for their recoveries, for strength for you and your brother as you all navigate through all these new normals. Life sure is great at curve balls.

    I’m glad you’re still writing though! If nothing else, at least it can be a way for you to take your mind off things and give it some rest of a sort.

    *hugs* and prayers