Timing Is Everything
And it's hard to get right
“What time do we need to get up in the morning?” my husband asked, lobbing some t-shirts onto the bed.
“Uggggh,” I said, “I don’t even want to think about it.” One by one, I folded each shirt and then nestled the stack into the channel between my clothing and the kids’. I started counting backwards. “Okay, so the flight is at 6:45. That means we want to get there by 5:15. Thirty minutes to get there, so we leave at 4:45.”
“So we should get up at…?” He put the last of the toiletries into the gallon zipper bag and lay it across the top of the suitcase.
“I don’t want anyone up before 4:30,” I said. The bags were packed, the devices charged. All we had to do is roll out of bed, throw some clothes on, and get in the car. Let the kids have a few extra minutes of sleep if they could get it.
I didn’t factor in recalcitrant children, the time it would take to walk from central parking to the terminal, or the number of people who would be at the airport at five in the damn morning. We made it to the gate just as they began the boarding announcements.
Honestly, to me, the timing was perfect. But I knew my husband was missing the decompression time he usually takes between getting through security and standing with the huddled masses waiting to board.
On the return flight, we gave ourselves an extra 45 minutes, which somehow translated to an extra hour-and-a-half at the gate, chasing a toddler from one end of the lounge to the other while fighting nausea from the previous night’s tortilla soup, as the sun considered making an appearance at the horizon.
I’ve always cut things close. While my dad is known to arrive to work an hour early and my husband will leave the house four hours before his flight, I prefer to roll in right on time. When I get to where I’m going too early, I just sit around being mad because I could have finished up whatever I was doing before I left. (I say that to myself as if any of my projects ever had an ending. 🤣)
But, lately, I’m finding that I’m actually arriving at important things too late.
No, not things like my kids’ Back to School Night or my annual physical, or even a coffee date with a friend. I mean life things. Career things. Things that could have put me farther ahead than I am now.
I was a reluctant adopter of social media, for example. TikTok is the new great thing for writers to publicize their work, and I can’t even bring myself to log on. (Well, except for that one embarrassing video I made.)
I created an online course teaching parents how to help their children with Common Core math, but I didn’t publish it until a year or more into the pandemic.
I wrote this amazing novel (adjective borrowed from beta readers) about reproductive choice, but by the time it gets published, will reproductive choice still be on people’s minds? Maybe by 2024 (the earliest possible publication date for traditional publishing) people will be sick of talking about it.
I started writing essays and articles but held on to them for so long before pitching that I missed out on financial opportunities.
I definitely missed out on blogging. I could have turned my words into cash and partnerships and visibility a long time ago, but I didn’t know that until the market was saturated.
Maybe my perception is skewed, because the Internet does a great job of showing us what it thinks we want to see (and also highlighting all our shortcomings), but wherever I look I see creators already doing these things I told myself I should be doing a very long time ago and haven’t managed to do yet, because I don’t feel prepared or can’t find the time.
And sometimes it feels like it’s too late for me.
Here’s a thing I did though, without much thought or preparation: In February, I launched an online local news publication for my town. It’s grown a lot, in both content and readership, and I’ve formed many amazing relationships with my community. The business was even selected to be in the Google News Initiative’s Startup Lab program, which I’m about halfway through at this point. All because I had the confidence and interest to create something without overthinking, without waiting for some nebulous future date when conditions would be perfect.
Why am I talking about this now? Well, in part, because the airport anecdotes happened less than a week ago. But also because I am getting increasingly itchy to publish this novel and see where it takes me. I feel like I’m not prepared to do a good job, and I am afraid I don’t have time to set things up for it to go off perfectly.
But I think I’m more afraid that the book’s impact will diminish as the topic of reproductive choice ebbs out of our collective consciousness.
I know I’ve been talking about self-publishing for a while, but the whining in my head has reached a fever pitch and I’m giving myself space to look at the possibilities that I wasn’t open to for the last 18 months that I’ve wasted (not really, but it can feel like that) submitting the book.
Everything happens slowly in the publishing world, but maybe it’s time to speed things up.
I’ll keep you posted.