Why is it that as soon as I’ve sealed an envelope or parcel of any kind, I start to worry that it might contain something entirely different to whatever it was I originally intended to post? I mean, it’s extremely unlikely that I (or indeed anyone) might accidentally send someone a live chimpanzee, a pile of damp socks, or a box of jelly, instead of the nice, normal book or cuddly toy which I originally planned to dispatch. If nothing else, then surely the conspicuously different shape and smell of the parcel would betray my blunder before I could get too far with the posting process.
No need to worry then, one might think. Unfortunately, however, the potential errors in content about which I'm inclined to fret aren't usually that extreme. They tend to be somewhat subtler, though no less detrimental to my peace of mind. For example, roughly seven seconds after sealing the envelope of a birthday card, I begin to worry that I may not have put the right card inside. For while the envelope clearly does contain a card, who’s to say that I didn’t, in a fit of absent-minded distraction, insert one addressed to someone else, or perhaps one that congratulates the recipient on attaining the wrong age? (Happy Birthday, Grandma – 5 Today!)
It’s even possible that I’m about to send a card referring to the wrong celebration altogether – Christmas, Valentine’s Day, a Wedding Anniversary – anything other than a birthday. And what if, I wonder, as I palpate the sealed envelope in a desperate attempt to identify any foreign bodies inside, I’ve mistakenly included something else along with it – my lottery ticket, say, or my Boots Advantage card? How would I ever explain that? Yes, the addressee might erroneously assume that the lottery ticket was a present, but they would hardly make the same mistake with the Boots card...
I find myself dwelling on this subject today because the first two submissions of 2008 were sent out into the world this afternoon - and almost as soon as I’d sealed the envelope, I started worrying whether or not I’d put the right items inside. I know I checked each jiffy bag at least twice – and at the time of checking, they each contained a new cover letter, a correctly addressed SAE, and an extract of my work - but I still can’t shake the lingering feeling that I might have sent the wrong manuscript, or an old draft of the cover letter, filled with half-completed sentences and illegible shorthand. A few hours of worrying later, and I’m starting to wonder if I really might have sent those damp socks...
Of course, socks or no, there’s nothing I can do about it now. Some time in the next couple of days, those two jiffy bags will land on the intended desks. The seals will be torn open and the contents drawn out into the light of day again. Like all other writers, I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that my work is well-received. Unlike other writers, however, I’ll also have to cross my fingers that I sent the right piece of work - as opposed to a pile of socks or steadily melting jelly - in the first place!
On the subject of birthday cards, my newest god-daughter, Lilia, celebrates her first birthday today. According to The Element Encyclopedia of Birthdays, today is ‘the birthday of the visionary’ and those born on this date are destined to be travellers, with a love of adventure and a need for constant change. They will 'live life in the fast lane' and eventually – once they have learned the importance of patience and introspection - amaze those around them. Quite something to look forward to, I think, both for Lilia, and for all those around her.
Happy Birthday, Lilia!
(And, before you ask, I’ve already double-checked – definitely no socks this time!)
British writer, director, producer and actor. Artistic Director of Shadow Road Productions (www.shadowroad.com), Fireside Folktales (www.firesidefolktales.com) and Secret Storytellers (www.secretstorytellers.co.uk). Festival Director of mixed arts mental health awareness festival UNBROKEN (www.unbrokenfest.com), and professional member of Stage Directors UK, the Society of Authors, and the Society of Children's Writers & Illustrators.
Tuesday, 22 January 2008
The Proof of the Parcel's In the Opening
Labels: birthday cards, parcels, post, submissions
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Good luck with those submissions!
Thanks very much, Anne! All available digits are firmly crossed... ;-)
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