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  • Writer's pictureDonald J. Bingle

Mowing Down Deadlines

Whenever somebody's car breaks down, they say it happened at the worst possible time, but we know that's not really true. Sure, it always happens when you are actually driving, but, let's face it, some trips are more important than others, many are optional, and it doesn't really matter if you arrive a little late for some of them. Besides, many people have two cars and even hermit-like writers usually have a friend who can give them a ride if they really need it. When your lawnmower breaks, that's always at the worst time, because by definition you are mowing or about to mow the law and therefore the grass is sufficiently high that the lawn needs mowing. A half-mowed lawn looks ridiculous and an unmowed lawn makes it look like your house in in foreclosure. Almost nobody has a spare lawnmower in the garage, the yard service companies don't do one-off mowings at affordable rates, and your buddy six miles away is not going to drive his riding mower over for you to borrow (I once drove a riding mower six miles to give it to my dad, and it was not really much fun.). We have a fairly large lawn, so I have a riding lawnmower. Well, last time I was mowing it started vibrating and making more noise than usual, but was functioning fine for the first ten minutes. Little did I know that one of the blades had broken off, unbalancing the whole thing and vibrating the mowing deck big-time. Eventually one of the cotter pins holding the mowing deck in place fell off, dropping one side of the mowing deck in such a way that the blades started chewing through the mowing deck. That was almost instaneously much noisier, but before I could turn things off, blades and other chunks of metal were embedding themselves in my yard and every other pin and bolt on the mowing deck was vibrating itself loose. This, of course, happened late enough on a Saturday afternoon that the company which had done the annual service on my mower just weeks before was closed, but I left a message on their machine that my machine needed repair stat. Lawn 1-1/2 weeks tall. No call back Sunday or Monday. I called back on Tuesday and was told they would be out on Friday. I tried to convince them to come on Tuesday, but to no avail. The guy comes on Friday, takes a look and says he needs to order new blades. Duh. He said they would take two or three days. Lawn 2-1/2 weeks tall. A week goes by. I call again. He'll come by that day. He does. Puts on new blades. Cuts of loose pieces of my mowing deck with a hacksaw. Pounds the crap out of some piece underneath that was in the way. Tries out mower. It is still hitting something. He pounds on the underneath of the mowing deck some more. Mower seems to work. He leaves. After I finish another chore, I start mowing the lawn, now 3-1/2 weeks long. About ten minutes in, the blades hit something underneath on the mowing deck so hard, they all stop dead and a cloud of smoke goes up from the burnt belts before I can turn of the engine. I investigate. Something metalic and solid is in the middle of where the blades turn and I have no idea what it is or why it is there, but the other end of it is welded to the mowing deck. Call it mower's block. I call, but it's after hours. I leave a message. I do the same the next day, but who knows how long its going to be. I go to the cheap hardware store five miles away and get the cheapest walk-behind power mower they have. Linda and I spend an hour putting it together, then I spend the better part of four hours mowing the lawn over the next two days because the tiny mower has a swath of about 1/3 the riding mower. And, did I mention I was walking. The lawn is now mowed. Take that, mower's block. What does this have to do with writing? Well, when you write books and stories on spec, not for a particular deadline or publication, its like mowing the lawn. If you want to call yourself a writer, you have to do it often enough that you maintain your reputation in the community. These self-imposed deadlines have a bit of leeway. You can write every day and impress your neighbors or you can write often enough to have a yard that is mid-range--not overly sculpted but not weedy and long. You can stop altogether for a while if you get writer's block. But, eventually, you need to find yourself a way to get around not-writing. Cause if you don't write enough, things begin to fall apart. Not only do you get out of the habit, but your neighbors can begin to look askance when you call yourself a writer. And, of course, if you have a real-live honest to goodness deadline that must be met (or the editor will be unhappy--kind of the equivalent of the neighbors calling the city to complain), you may have to take extra measures to meet that deadline--missing a movie, cutting back on social networking or sleep or whatever. Walking instead of riding while you get your business taken care of. Tend your gardens, dudes, or it gets out of hand. Perhaps I have mowing on my mind because I just put on Amazon Prime's KDP Select my "Father's Day" story about my dad and me getting some sod. I did a promo on it on Mother's Day to prime the pump with some copies in the hopes of upping the number of reviews for it before my big push the Thursday through Sunday of Father's Day weekend to give away at least 10,000 copies. If you've read it, I'd appreciate a review. It's currently free for Amazon Prime members and only 99 cents for everyone else--FREE for everyone during the Father's Day weekend giveaway. Give it a read the next time you are taking a break from writing ... or mowing the lawn. Don

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