The package looked innocent enough.
As a computer industry writer, I get packages from unknown parties all the time. Sometimes the sender doesn't care about a signature, and the delivery person just leaves the box inside the screen door or on the porch. So, I wasn't especially surprised to come home the other day to find a brown paper package (no, it wasn't tied up with string) inside the screen door.
It was a couple of days before I actually got around to looking at this latest parcel. (That's not unusual. Unsolicited packages go to the bottom of my "get around to it" pile.)
I was surprised (and more than a little suspicious) to discover that the package had no return address. In fact, it had no address, period. It was heavy, too.
I thought pretty seriously about calling the bomb squad, but it wasn't ticking, there were no wires hanging out of it and there was no chemical smell, so, what the heck. I opened it.
Inside was a heavy cardboard shipping box and inside that was a half-dozen composition books (the kind with the marbled black cover and fabric binding that school kids have carried from time immemorial). On top of the books was a note, handwritten on a piece of typing paper:
By the time I finished the last page, I knew he was right. I had to put Wilde's journals on the Web. I got a few hours of sleep, then started transcribing them into HTML.
Just a few minutes after I started, I got an emergency call from one of my clients. They'd had a major server crash. I got their system back up and stablized, but it took all day and it was after midnight before I was done. I was so exhausted I nearly fell asleep driving across the Bay Bridge on the way home.
When I woke up the following morning, I knew this was going to have to be a long-term project. My email was piling up, my clients needed me and I had two articles due to trade magazines by the end of the week.
I realized then that I was going to have to transcribe Wilde's journals and scan in his sketches only when I had the time to spare, and to put them up on the Web one or two entries at a time, as I got them completed. It's going to take longer, but at least I won't lose my clients, my sleep or my sanity over it.
(Copyright© 1997 by Thom Stark--all rights reserved)