Cancer Doesn’t Care About Your Job

CC’s eyes are watering. Constantly. (Clogged Tear Ducts: Side Effect  #9735 of Chemo You Never Heard Of) We are going through boxes of extra soft tissues like cold season in a Kindergarten classroom. It’s next to impossible to focus on the computer screen with teary eyes. But that is exactly what CC has to do. Her latest novel is due to be released in few months and the publisher has asked for another, final round of edits.  The publisher doesn’t know she can barely see. And it wouldn’t matter. There is a deadline. CC will honor it.

LEHR_Bookcover_May2013Me? I’m pretty sure I’d be under the covers after having told the publisher what they can do with their edit requests. But CC is determined. So we’re both holed up in her office attempting to plow through mundane eye-crossing editing–sentences, sentence structure, verb choice, noun choice, phraseology–it feels endless. 

I’m frustrated because I can’t help enough. CC writes Fiction. I write NonFiction. The stylistic difference between the two is becoming glaringly clear. The “rules” are different. Whipping another tissue from the box next to her keyboard and dabbing her eyes, CC explains to me why. Again, I’d be in bed. Her endurance (and smarts and talent) amaze me.

The silent, non negotiable rule behind our work is this: If her eyes don’t get better, if they don’t stop tearing, she’s off to the Ophthalmologist’s to have metal pins shoved down her tear ducts. (You heard me.) Her nose runs in time with her eyes. She sits at her big white desk, reading and rereading, proofing and reproofing, continually dabbing her eyes and wiping her nose. Even with the pricier, extra lotion infused tissues, her skin is so raw, so fragile.

Like her very life.

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