It seems as if I’m always playing catch up.
There is never enough time in the day to do everything I’d like. Never enough time to see, talk to, email, or otherwise check-in on everyone I care about. The pile of books I have been meaning to read never seems to get smaller, no matter how many I read.
Everyone feels that way some of the time. Those of us with a wide variety of interests may feel it more often than others. Or maybe we just think we do.
I was reminded of this while sorting out some things regarding the collaborative sci fi project for which I’ve been editor for a number of years. I and one of the authors were figuring out where, on the project timeline, a particular tale could take place, and which characters would be available to use in the story. And I mentioned a character, and the author said, “Oh, was that the guy whose story never got finished?”
The character had been created by Gerald P., an extremely enthusiastic and always busy member of a lot of projects. He had submitted a couple of rough drafts to our project, along with this character and a number of proposed further stories with the character. He completed two stories, only one of which included this character (and in a small, supporting role, to boot!) which we published several years ago.
Subsequently, whenever I talked with Gerald, whether it was at a convention or online, he would talk about the other stories. He would occasionally send me revised individual scenes from the stories. I would send back comments.
Soon, whenever I would see him in person, he would get a slightly guilty look on his face, and would open every conversation with an apology for not finishing a second draft of the stories. We’d talk about what was holding him up on this scene or that, but soon we would be talking about other things. Often other stories others had written and how much he enjoyed them. Or stories he had finished in other projects. It was impossible not to enjoy these conversions, because Gerald’s joy and enthusiasm for everything he did was just that infectious.
Unfortunately, a few years ago, Gerald unexpectedly died. He’d been fighting cancer for a while, but it was undiagnosed diabetes that brought his untimely death.
He never finished those stories. If there is an afterlife and I am lucky enough to see Gerald again, I am certain he’ll give me that familiar guilty look, apologize for not getting a new draft in, and start talking about the intricacies of the plot that have been troubling him. And I’m just as certain that our conversation would quickly drift onto other topics.
Because all of us are always playing that crazy game of catch up.
Otherwise known as life.