“Life, as the most ancient of all metaphors insists, is a journey; and the travel book, in its deceptive simulation of the journey’s fits and starts, rehearses life’s own fragmentation. More even than the novel, it embraces the contingency of things.”
Jonathan Raban, British author, critic
“Life’s a bitch. And it’s about to have puppies.”
Sometimes life likes to open up sinkholes on the road you’re traveling. For instance, I have an anthology that needs to be written by the end of this month. So what does Life do to me?
Decides to crack the screen on my laptop, that’s what.
As I sat at my desk with the realization that I am the proud owner of a $1200 paperweight, I realized that I had two choices: one, freak out; or two, do something. Honestly though, option one would inevitably lead to option two, it would just take longer and leave me more exhausted.
So I opted for the second choice. I called my sister up and begged for the desktop that I’d given to her kids. I was hoping at the very least that the monitor would hook up to my laptop and I’d be able to copy my files off, if not use it as a hybrid laptop/desktop. Luckily for me, the kids weren’t using the desktop, and the monitor works great.
The whole experience got me to thinking about contingency plans. As a writer, I think they are paramount. You never know when the editor that championed you is going to leave, your agent doesn’t like the direction you want to go, the house you started with begins to get flaky, so on and so on.
Stuff happens. That is another fact of life. And while it’s difficult to be prepared for everything, you can prepare for some things.
~ Diversify your portfolio. This is something I’ve recently come to terms with, and I realize now that more than a few writers do this. Paranormal and contemporary romance. Sweet and erotica. Fiction and non-fiction. Just as diversifying your stock portfolio lessens your chance of losing your drawers when a sector goes under, diversifying your writing career will leave your options open when one genre grows cold. If you do not believe me, ask someone who used to write Western romances.
~ Always have an iron in the fire. Never rest on your laurels. You should always be thinking about the next project after the one you’re working on after the one you’re finishing up. If you have to tack a dry erase board to the wall or at least a calendar or sheet of paper, always keep in mind that it’s always about the next sale.
~ Have an exit strategy. Also known as the Check your Parachute rule. Make sure there is an out clause clearly stated in your agent agreement. Make sure you clearly understand how and when your rights revert back to you. Know when to leave a publishing house and how. Never burn bridges–your mama taught you better than that. That being said, sometimes you’ve got to know when to exhale.
Do you have any contingency plans? What works for you?