About a month ago, a man robbed my friend and I. He wanted our valuables, the only problem was, among my valuables was my laptop with draft components of my manuscript Follow Me: Tattered Veils.
“Jessica, a man had a gun in your face! He was close enough you could have reached out and touched the blasted thing. What the fuck is wrong with you that your first thought isn’t for your life, or your friend, it’s for your book,” I imagine some of you may be saying.
Valid point. Once I confirmed my friend was unharmed, it was the first thing I thought too.
All my training failed me. As a kid, my parents drilled me to throw my purse at a robber, run, and scream “Fire.” As a college student my “Self Defense for Women” course STILL recommended the “throw your purse” step, but they followed it up with a karate chop to the neck.
I never wondered “what would I do?” I knew I would throw my purse and run. It’s a joke among my friends, how they would defend me and I’ve always said:
“No I’m running.”
“You‘d abandon me,” they tease.
“No, you‘re welcome to run with me.”
Que laughter, Jess is a self-proclaimed coward and not in the least ashamed.
It was a shock to learn that the running part held true, but my primitive brain would not relinquish my manuscript.
What does that mean? Who cares about anything that’s not alive so much they will risk their own safety for it?
I guess I have to add vanity to my list of sins. I love my book. I’ve said: “I love it more than life, more than loved ones, more than breathing.” and believed it was hyperbole, but now I have to face whether this is a core truth about me. Am I so conceited that what I create means more than life? What responsibilities do I hold if this is true?
First, I can’t keep drafts without back ups anymore. If I can’t trust myself to be sane, then I’ll photograph my handwritten notes, same my written copies to the cloud. Whatever it takes to secure both my manuscript and my friends.
Second, my laptop will have to stay home or I will review my entrance and exit into public space with it. Yes, cloud backups are fine, but my laptop is an expensive key piece of equipment in my pursuit of publication.
Third, can I learn to care less? I know I can’t control how my brain responds to an emergency. But the correct answer to “Give me all your money!” is NOT “No, and I will leave now.” That’s not possible.
The experience leaves me wondering: what does it mean to love writing or my finished writing more than life? Do I love it too much? Is there some program for people who are too passionate about their work I should enter?
So talk to me. Have you been in a life-threatening situation? How did you react? Did your reaction times surprise you? What did you do after? Do you ever wonder if you love your creative work too much? Do you consider it a vanity or conceit to hold the work in such high esteem? What steps do you take to protect your work?