I woke up this morning to two wonderful, completely unexpected surprises. Yes, a "surprise" is by definition unexpected, but these were two baubles of happenstance whose possibility had never even entered my mind.
First was the realization that during the night, my computer had spontaneously rebooted. Let me explain. For the past four weeks I have left my PC running without a break. This has more to do with the publication of The Just Beyond than anything else. Since early last summer my machine has been dropping indications of impending death; I won't go into details but after a good deal of investigation and diagnosis, the conclusion I eventually reached was that the motherboard was limping along to persuade me to replace it before it expired.
The problem manifested itself most often as freezing on reboot, and when the latest in my series of amateurish workarounds crashed in early December, I finally got the message. I got in touch with a local mom-and-pop computer business, the best of only a handful in Brookings, and put a new custom-built rig on order. (That machine is supposed to be done this week--was supposed to be delivered yesterday, in fact, but delay and slippage in service level seems to be endemic here and we've learned to live with it. When we first moved in our gas fireplace, the only source of heat in the house, would not come on. It took four technician visits over six months to get it fixed, leaving us without the device till the end of winter. We bought plug-in space heaters to get by and installed a Mitsubishi heat pump, which now serves admirably both for heat and precious air conditioning in the spring and summer. So on balance it was probably a good thing.) :)
Leaving the PC on eventually created a serious dilemma. I do consulting work, and one of the critical applications for that glitched and locked me out. The only solution was to reboot, which I dared not do for fear it wouldn't restart at all. The work app was important, but what I really couldn't risk was missing an email from the publisher or losing my book documents. I backed up the manuscript, of course, but after dedicating a year's worth of time, travail, and emotion thanklessly grinding it out, you get nervous. :)
This morning my PC desktop looked odd--recent icons out of place and a message saying the network drive connection had failed. These were clear signs that the rig had rebooted on its own sometime during the night. Hopefully, I tried to open the locked application--and it worked! This is a huge pressure lifted as the lack of access was bound to cause me real problems very soon.
That was a great relief, but an even more significant boon also occurred. I woke up with a searing passion to write the sequel, The Far Beyond. Yes, it was already underway, but in fits and starts. There was much content I hadn't resolved in my head, and I had written and then discarded a number of openings. I couldn't seem to establish a visceral connection to the book. My muse was hiding.
She's back with a vengeance. I woke up feeling fiercely invested in the story and the characters. You have to write it, my soul seemed to say. You can't leave them (the characters) dangling.
The clouds parted and I could see clearly how I should proceed. So off I go! Is there a message here? Probably not, but if there is one, it would be to never give in to despair. Serendipity happens--more often in real life than in fiction, which is saying something. Expect the best, or at least don't resolve yourself to the notion that it's impossble. I believe your mental state has a lot to do with success or failure--both positive and negative perspectives can produce a corresponding self-fulfilling prophesy. From here on, mine will be positive for The Far Beyond. And it's guaranteed to make the book better. - Mark