Adapting to Uncomfortable Situations

For many years, my standard answer to the often-asked question: “What do you think is the most valuable quality for a serious writer?” has been “Persistence.”

I still stand by that because, without persistence, a writer won’t write, won’t finish, won’t proof, won’t eventually learn about markets, and all the rest.  However, this last year has made me think about a trait I’d like to add: Adaptability.

I sold my first short story in the late 1980’s.  My first novel came out December of 1994.  Since then, I’ve seen publishing change dramatically.  Most, if not all, of the tidbits my dear Roger Zelazny shared with me about the marketplace wouldn’t apply today.  Time and again, I’ve had to adapt.

But that’s not what I’ve been thinking about.  I’ve been thinking about adapting as a useful skill for a writer.  Why? Well, because when something goes wrong, all that persistence can be made switch direction.

Here’s one example.  Late in 2020, I was just beginning to exchange e-mails with David Weber, with whom I’m writing the “Star Kingdom” novels, narrowing down what we’d be putting in the fifth novel (SK5) in the series.  Then he was diagnosed with Covid-19.  He inaugurated the New Year by spending  nine days in the hospital and, as of this writing, is still less than his usually energetic self.  Has this impacted on my schedule?  Of course…  How could it not?

Nestled In

Here’s where adaptability comes in.  One thing I learned a long time ago was that when a project is finished and sent out, forget it and move along to something else.  Although I thought I’d be writing on SK5 by now, I’m not.  Instead, I’m contently nestled in with a project that has, in revision and self-editing, morphed from one very long, unwieldy book into two much more reasonable-length novels. 

Sounds self-evident, doesn’t it?  It’s not.  You won’t believe how many creative people get stuck with what “should have been” and so miss out on the chance to work on something that might give them a lot more pleasure than fussing.

Now, forgive me for not chatting longer, but if I work steadily I can finish off my revision of another chapter or two before I need to take a break and work on…  Bleah.  Tax stuff. 

Catch you later!


4 Responses to “Adaptability”

  1. King Ben's Grandma Says:

    Thank Jim for the pictures! I’m glad your birds are as adaptable as you. I have a friend in Texas who went through 40 pounds of seed during that horrible week, and still lost a few. Heartbreaking!
    I don’t like much about being on SSDI, but not having to file taxes is nice. Good luck!

  2. Harried Harry Says:

    The birds in my yard are very happy I got tired of picking the pecans. Now I’ve used the tractor to blade the yard so more nuts are readily visible which means all the birds in the neighborhood are having very hearty meals.

    The next time you speak to David Weber, please let him know one of his fans wishes him the best recovery. COVID19 is nothing to play with but more people are surviving than before. Of course, a lot are not, which is very sad.

    Adapting is always part of the “game of life”. If we don’t adapt, we won’t survive “whatever” comes along. This was true 1000 years ago and it remains true today. The challenge for most people is to be willing to get out of our current comfort zone so we can get into the new one. Before I retired, I had the same job title but changed what I was doing at least 20 times over the years. One of the most challenging changes occurred when I moved to Europe to work. New culture, new language, new people, new everything. My family had the most challenges since my wife was expecting and we only had one vehicle. In time, we learned how to cope with the changes and enjoyed our time. Now we are adapting to my retirement and getting sick. The challenges could be worse but we’ll keep on going.

    Best wishes to everyone, stay safe, and most important stay sane.

    • janelindskold Says:

      The staying sane is a problem. SO much anger out there. It scares me. I’m smiling about your birds and the pecans. Some years ago, we tried pecan shell mulch (pretty, but sharp on bare feet) and the birds happily foraged for scraps of pecan. Very cute. I will tell Weber. I suspect we’ll be talking soon.

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