I turned in my first-pass edits for THE DARKEST FLOWER today: one day early and, I hope, thorough. It wasn't easy, though.
When I was in high school and college, I was a procrastinator. I remember many a night when I stayed up past midnight writing a paper on a book I'd only finished two hours before. I grew out of that in adulthood once I became a lawyer -- I have too much natural anxiety to try that when contempt of court is on the line.
I am still so thrilled that Thomas & Mercer took a chance on me and this book that I was determined not to be late. I'd get my revisions done a week early and have time to read over what I'd done idly. Things didn't work that way.
Nine days before the edits were due, I got the call we all dread. My mother had become confused sitting out on her porch. She wouldn't eat. Wouldn't come inside. When my father and the neighbors tried to force her out of the direct sunlight, her legs wouldn't work. She'd been admitted to the hospital--during the coronavirus epidemic. I dropped everything -- including my edits -- to rush up there to see her and to help my dad handle things.
She was tested for coronavirus. Not that. For stroke. Not that. Eventually they found the bacteria in her blood which had traveled from an innocent scrape or mosquito bite scratch to cluster around the heart valve replacement she'd received last fall. There was nothing to do but give her antibiotics and hope. We waited.
My parents live about ninety minutes away from me. I drove back and forth nearly every day for a week. I carried my computer, but as you can imagine, not much editing got done in full PPE--rubber gloves, mask, gown, and all. Stress--both for my mom and the approaching deadline--grew.
It's amazing how priorities reshuffle. I'm constitutionally unable to fail to meet a deadline--long years in the legal profession have made it so. I also love my parents. I quit sleeping. I edited pre-dawn and at lunch when I could make it back to work. I missed time -- over a holiday weekend--with my kids and husband.
I found time to help my father, late one night after we left the hospital, install Disney on his TV so he could watch Hamilton. We watched the opening song together at six in the morning before leaving for the hospital again.
My mom is hoping to leave the hospital today--stable enough to medicate at home. I got it all done. It turns out there was time for the important things.
Now maybe I can watch Hamilton myself.
THE DARKEST FLOWER:
LYING BENEATH THE OAKS: