Like almost everyone I work with, I’ve been sick all week. The bug spread like, well, a disease through the halls of our newspaper office infecting everyone within hours. Some in our midst, for many weeks now, have been fighting their way along the slow ascent back to health, while others of us fell ill late in the game, just as the prospects of our formerly stricken comrades became decidedly rosier.
I was joined by two others that I know of, whose symptoms began over the weekend, and though I have managed to make it to work each day since, I feel like every new morning brings with it a return to sorrow, a reminder of the war within, a realization of the trials that the day will bring.
Maybe it’s fitting that this week, while battling cold and flu season, I also wrote a story about a couple — he’s 85 and she’s 87 — who published a book that would be suitable as a sweeping epic drama for the big screen. You’ve never met anyone like these two … or maybe you have, and just don’t know it yet. Fenton and Evelyn Babcock lived completely different and separate lives and never even met before he was 75 and she 77 (give or take a few months) … but, as they would find out, their lives had been much closer (in proximity and meaning) than either ever could have imagined.
I won’t go into detail here, since I wrote about them already for the Daily; suffice it to say that talking with and writing about them helped me to realize that it’s never too late to change your life and that we’re never too old to accomplish great things. The Babcocks published a book in their 80s. Oh, yeah, and they also married each other in their 80s too.
I’ve been sick all week, so I’ve accomplished very little outside of work. If I weren’t obligated by a sense of pride and the willingness to accept the job title of a candle with a flame at both ends, I might not have accomplished as much as I did at work either. I’m not saying I feel bad about not having accomplished anything after hours while being sick — after all, my white blood cells have accomplished quite a lot. They need me to be drowsy right now, right? That’s what I’m telling myself anyway. Right now I need to rest up and look to tomorrow when, day by day, I’ll feel better and come out on the other side all the better for having had to battle for the sake of my health. It seems fitting, too, that this Saturday will bring a program I plan to attend about how to get publishers to say yes. If there’s anyone I need affirmation from in the near future, it’s book publishers. I’m guessing that the same is true for those of you who are writing stories you’d like to see published. If you’ll be in the Winchester, Va., area this Saturday at 1 p.m. stop by the Handley Library on Piccadilly Street and see what you can learn from publishing consultant and professional writing coach David Hazard. It’s free, so there’s nothing to lose.
After a week of feeling like I’m fighting a losing battle against this cold and allowing it to suppress any interest in writing or editing, I think choosing to end the week on a high, learning more about the world of publishing is the perfect treatment.