As many followers will know, I’ve pledged to make a booklet in aid of BBC Children in Need. The idea seemed a simple one – just collect a small compilation of work from members of the writing group that I lead. I would comb bind it and persuade friends to buy a copy. What could possibly go wrong?

Hmm, I hadn’t considered a few pertinent points;
1) health has a habit of letting me down.
2) I had already committed to writing a novel during November for NaNoWriMo.
3) I’m rubbish at sticking to the basics!

Already burning the candle at both ends, my health was on a downward spiral & although I recognised it, I refused to do anything about it. I was enjoying life, why would I want to slow down?
A charity abseil that I was due to do was postponed. Concerned friends told me how washed out I looked, eventually agreeing, I took advantage of the postponed abseil weekend to take a break by the sea. A weekend stretched into five days. Sounds great? It was, but rather than rest, I chose to run around like a loon doing all things that tourists do! I came back even more exhausted!

With November looming, I prepared for the NaNoWriMo challenge, setting the plot, sketching the storyline, getting excited & eager to start. I told everybody, so that I wouldn’t back out & on November 1st I sat in front of my laptop & wrote my little heart out. This had been complicated by an unexpected change of storyline. A new idea swept into my brain the day previously & refused to leave, so I was really winging it, having not had any form of plan to work with.
For 4 days I wrote solidly into the night, delighted that I was ahead of my word count schedule. ( NANoWriMo requires that a minimum of 50000 words are produced during the 30 days of November)

At the same time I was organising the charity booklet & had persuaded fellow group members to produce short articles & poetry for me to print. All was going well until I fell out with my printer. It refuses to cooperate. I took this as a sign that maybe I should look into having the booklet professionally printed.
After a lot of googling & comparing prices, I decided to go with a local printing company. Since the cost was greater, so was my need to produce a better book. Sheets of A4 inspirations were being handed to me, all I needed to do was put them into order.

No. Life for me is never that straightforward.

I decided that the booklet should be smaller, A5 size. No worries. HAH!
Now remember that I am a pensioner who only learnt to use a computer about 5 or 6 years ago, apart from the absolute basics, everything has been self taught.
I had also been told that I needed to put individual files into PDF form, then number them, put them onto a memory stick & take it to the printers. Of course I had heard of these new fangled methods, yet had never attempted them. To say that I made hard work of it is an understatement! Googling, books & Youtube to the rescue. I probably could have handled it better, had it not been for me having a slight stroke.

At first I thought that I was simply exhausted, but apparently not. I’ve had several small strokes & a larger one, so recognised what had happened, mini strokes are common place in my family, so the risks have always been accepted by me as just a fact of life.
This one knocked me for six! I was totally wiped out, unable to tackle anything. I did try to do some writing but will need to rewrite it, as it was such rubbish. Unable to go out, my groups & voluntary job had to be put on hold. I became a social recluse.

I have a good relationship with our local newspaper, writing a monthly column for them as well as various small articles & letters, so I had asked them to promote the charity booklet. They happily agreed, asking for a photo of me holding the completed book, to which they would add a piece asking for local support. I would have been delighted, except that the booklet was still in the planning stage. I couldn’t figure out how to do the necessary set up of files.

I didn’t want to fail but it looked like I was going to.

For an entire week, with brain of mush & no energy, I have sat through the night trying desperately to work out how to set up the files etc. One night I didn’t go to bed at all.
Every day I learnt something new. Windows 10 & myself are not best of friends yet & I’m struggling to find my way around it, but every night I realised that I’d found out how to do a new task ( things that most people could do with their eyes closed.) Every morning, before breakfast I would sit at the laptop, ready to use my new found knowledge, only to discover that I needed to learn more, before I could proceed.

I didn’t give up.

In the early hours of this morning, I realised that I’d finally cracked it. I crawled into bed, knowing that I only had a tiny bit more to complete this morning, ready to go to the printers.

The phone woke me from a deep sleep at mid morning. I had a friend arriving at lunchtime. ARGH! I had come too far to allow it all to drag into next week. I had advertised the book to be ready for purchase, Children in Need being next week. I had to complete it. I needed to succeed.

With only a couple of hours before I was due to go out for lunch, I sat at my desk & with absolute determination I set about finishing it. My friend duly arrived, to find me still in my pyjamas. Fortunately very understanding, she made a cuppa while I tapped feverishly on my keyboard. I’m not sure how many times I said to her “Just one last file & I’m finished.”

The important thing is that I got there. A couple of weeks late & very sleep deprived, I was able to proudly hand over the completed flash drive to the printers’. Exhausted & brain dead, yet happy. I’ve no idea how well my work will reproduce in print, I hope it’s good. I want it to be successful, to raise some money, but for me it’s been a worthwhile experience. I’ve learnt a lot. I’ve also learnt that perseverance pays off. The booklet should be ready to go on sale next week. I did it! Me! Little Ol’ me! I figured it out. Even if I’m left with egg on my face & a stack of unsold booklets, I managed to overcome all sorts of obstacles & am very pleased with myself. Yes ok so it won’t be professionally written, it’s only a small scale production, but I did it!

As for NanoWriMo? I had thought about giving up, having not written a word for a complete week, but have decided not to.
Allowing myself the luxury of a relaxing evening, I intend to recommence tomorrow, after a T’ai Chi workshop. There’s a very good chance that I won’t meet the deadline, but it isn’t important. I will write as much as I am able – I have the rest of my life to complete it. I accepted the challenge and will do my best but don’t need to prove anything to anyone. I’ve had a lot to cope with recently. But I have overcome it all & am still here to tell the tale.

My health is improving again. I’m eager to get on with my life. Bring it on!

Rosie x

If you enjoyed reading this, please ‘follow’ or ‘share’ all support is vital to a knackered old woman!
Until next time, take care.

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