Recently, I finally picked up an appointment book after years of using a digital version, then printing out a copy of each month’s activity. Then about two years ago, for whatever reason (the wireless connection in my house has always been iffy, and the router finally died earlier this year), the printer became a solitary unit (that is, it wouldn’t connect with anything; it scans and copies, and so it will print as well, but only if I bothered to figure out where to insert a memory stick). I haven’t had a chance to figure out why; I hadn’t needed to use it, and when I need printouts, I went to the library one block away. (I’m not good with technology. Not uncomfortable, but it would take me a longer time to suss out the problem than I wanted to waste when I could have been working.) Of course, for a long time that worked fine. When I wanted something more than a few pages from the library printer, I could go to the Staples a mile away (and since I don’t have a car, I walk to, but again it has to be something I have to make sure I have an hour to waste walking there and walking home).
It’s getting to the point, though, that not having a printer is getting inconvenient. And because I don’t have a printout of my month’s goals, I was getting frustrated that I’d miss deadlines (like those for OtherWorld Diner) that I shouldn’t have. I kept telling myself I’d fix the connection or break down and call a repair guy (grr!), but I never have.
And I still haven’t. At least for the deadlines, now I have a little book made up of months, weeks, and pages on which to write notes. Just like I had...before the digital age. Like the big leather binder I still have on my desk, gathering dust. It’s shut and put in a safe place; I have no space on my desk for something that size.
My deadlines which are mine
Why hasn’t the whole “I have all the deadlines I need to remember on my laptop/phone/other device” worked for me? I had all those deadlines on my computer’s calendar, but I’d get a reminder and I’d say oh yeah I should get on that and that would be it. More often than not, the reminder would come up when I was working on a project and wasn’t at a point to work on it. With a binder of paper, small (mass market paperback size), I have it propped open to the proper month, with everything I have to do coming up not giving me a gentle reminder. No, in my own handwriting, scrawled, sometimes in CAPS. For me, that works.
I think of it in pretty much the same way authors—including me—have story binders. My life and work as a story, basically. This is particularly useful for those writing series and crucial for those writing fantasy and science fiction series. I’ve seen remarkably elaborate versions, in thick binders, color illustrations and maps, so the tiny details of a fictional world remain fresh. An organizer is the same thing for real-life folks. (And a great start for a story, come to think of it! You can see it, can’t you? “Dental appt 9am. Mktg meet 11am. Lunch/blind date 1 pm. Note: Pick up toothpaste.”)
I know someone who actually offers a service to build story binders for those who need to keep track of the details for a series. Doesn’t matter if it’s historical or fantastical or science fiction or small-town contemporary; she’ll keep all those details for you, and if you decide to insert a tiny detail, tell her and she’ll make sure she has it for you. Yessirree, it’s an organizer for your story! (If you’re curious about her service, ask me!)
Meanwhile, my life organizer is being populated by the day with projects, deadlines, workshops, and even appointments. And it works for me.
Elizabeth MS Flynn has written fiction in the form of comic book stories, romantic fantasies, urban fantasies, historical fantasies and short stories, a young adult novel, and a graphic novella (most published under the name of Eilis Flynn). She’s also a professional editor and has been for 40 years, working with academia, technology, and finance nonfiction, and mystery, science fiction, fantasy, and romance fiction. If you’re looking for an editor, she can be found editing at emsflynn.com and reached at email@example.com. If you’re curious about her books, check out eilisflynn.com. In any case, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.