Reliving The Dream

scream

If you remember the movie Groundhog Day, Bill  Murray’s character (Phil, the local TV weatherman) kept waking up on that day, and relives it over and over and over again. During this process he evolves from a selfish, ego-centric asshole to someone who respects people, cares about others, and is actually likeable. He finds himself falling in love with Andie MacDowell’s character, and wants to become someone she can love in return, hence the transformation.

I bring this up because my quest to become published has made me feel the same sense of deja vu Phil experienced. The dream is an endless loop that brings me back to the same place, and never arrives at a conclusion.

I first wrote about getting published  back in May of 2018. I had hopes 2018 would be the year it would happen, but the process really didn’t get started in earnest until early 2019. I had to re-edit the manuscript for what felt like the thousandth time, and once that was completed the manuscript was sent to a bunch of publishing houses. I believed this was the end of the process and was confident that 2019 would be the year. I was wrong.

Early last month I got the word from my agent that the feedback she had been receiving was that as a first-time author, the publishers would not consider looking at a manuscript that exceeded 85,000 words.

The original draft had approximately 150,000 words. When my agent first took a gander at it, she said it had to be 100,000 words or less, otherwise nobody would look at it. So I spent months revising the thing, and after several iterations got it down to a little less than 100,000. Imagine my surprise and dismay when I learned I had to go through this all over again.

My initial reaction, which I never expressed, was “Are you shitting me?!” I was pissed. Chopping 15,000 words from a manuscript you think is tight is no easy feat. In fact, I thought it impossible. But I hadn’t looked at the manuscript for close to eight months, and it turns out it wasn’t as tight as I thought.

My first effort netted a savings of maybe 5,000 words, but that wasn’t good enough. So the second time I was more ruthless and thought I hit the magic number, but only got it down to 87,000.

If I’m honest, this is a far superior version because there was a lot of fluff in what I thought was the final edition. This one is much tighter and the story doesn’t lose a thing, so perhaps there is a method to this madness. But now I have to read it one final time (hopefully) and see if there are any other pieces of text that don’t really add to the story that can be removed. The resulting outcome will have to be good enough.

This process really sucks, if for no other reason than the fact that I have read this thing from beginning to end at least 100 times and am tired of it. It wasn’t so bad during the first go-around in December, but this will be the third revision in a month. I’m so sick of looking at it I’m tempted to burn the thing and be done with it, but I can’t and won’t. I’ve invested too much time in the process to give up now. Hopefully this does the trick.

The only silver lining to this is that I have an excuse for not starting a second novel, the storyline of which has been in my head of almost a year. If and when that process starts, I’d like to think I’ve learned enough from this experience not to have to write and re-write it as many times. If that’s not the case, maybe I should wait until I retire so I can devote myself to this full-time.

Age or MS?

faucet

I don’t complain about getting older. There’s no point to it, and besides, it beats the alternative. But one annoying and frustrating symptom has become exponentially worse lately, and I’m wondering how much of it has to do with MS.

As men age, it is not uncommon for us to have to urinate more often. From what I understand, the prostate increases in size and presses against the urethra, which prevents us from fully emptying our bladders. So when I found myself going more often at night and during the day, I wasn’t surprised. Besides, there is medication that helps remedy the problem, and when I first started taking these meds it definitely helped. But now these meds are as useful as tits on a bull.

To put it bluntly, I can’t hold my water, am constantly dealing with what I refer to as a leaky faucet, and it is driving me out of my mind. I have to wear pads to absorb the drips (and sometimes more than a drip) and have a urinal in my car in case the need becomes extreme and I’m not anywhere near a bathroom. I’m guessing that I’ve had to pull over and use it a dozen times over the past year.

I had the unpleasant experience of dealing with a kidney stone that had to be surgically removed a couple of years ago. It came as a complete surprise, and I hope to never experience it again. My urologist told me that if I didn’t consume a ton of salt (I don’t) and drink around 100 ounces of water a day (I didn’t), I would never see him again. From then on my water consumption jumped from practically nothing to that magic number. Keep in mind that water does not include coffee or beer.

So I know part of the reason I pee all the time is because my bladder is always full. But there is more to it than that.

First you should know that I typically start work between 5:30 and 6:00, and the first thing I do when I arrive in the office is get a cup of coffee (12 oz). Once that is consumed I start filling my mug with hot water, and consume 100 ounces between seven and noon. During that time I make the trek from my desk to the men’s room every half hour or so. Once the 100 ounces is consumed I don’t drink anything.

So, the other day I made three stops to the men’s room after my last mug of water, including as I was leaving the office for the trip home. Keep in mind it had been over three hours since I drank any liquid of any kind.

When I arrived home, 45 minutes later, I had to rush to the bathroom because the faucet was dripping. Then I went to the basement to work out on a recumbent bike I have, and had to inturrupt my workout after 20 minutes because I had to go again. Then after I returned and finished my routine (less than fifteen minutes later), I found that I had to go again once I got into a standing position. Once upstairs I sat for a while before getting up to set the dinner table, and had to go yet again. To make a long story short, I had to pee seven times in less than three hours, and this was long after I consumed any liquid.

It seems that anytime I go from a sitting to upright position, or do anything that could get things chruning, I have to go. Immediately! It’s as if gravity triggers the need to void whatever is in my bladder, and since my muscle control down there is much worse since the MS, the faucet begins to drip. If I don’t attend to it, it will become a flood. Fortuantely that hasn’t happened yet.

It’s maddening. I literally have to plan my day and where I might be going around the amount of liquid I’ve consumed and whether there is a bathroom I can use. I hate using the pads, but need them all the time. Who wants to feel wet all day long or, even worse, walk arond with a wet spot in a place it doesn’t belong? On the days I have my plasma transfers, I literally can’t drink anything for at least two hours prior to the procedure, because once it starts I can’t get up and aren’t supposed to move my arms. The dilemma is water helps fatten the veins, which makes them easier to find.

Age and MS are probably both at work here. I am obviously not emptying the chamber whenever I go (age), but the frequency and urgency in which the need arises is because I can’t hold anything (MS). It’s as if there is nothing to stop the flow once I stand up, which is maddening for someone who used to be be able to hold it all day long if necessary.

At least I don’t have this issue when it comes to empyting the intestines, which I know can be problematic for folks with MS. I don’t even want to contemplate what that would be like.