So, I went to contract for the book I am working on right now at the end of July/ beginning of August, and I promptly started writing. My acquisition editor (the editor who acquires books for the publisher) told me that my editor (who also happens to be the publihser) would be in touch with me. And so I started writing and figured I’d hear from my editor when she was ready.
“Have you talked to your editor?” A friend asked in September.
“Are you going to contact her?”
“Nope.” And here was my rationale for why (in addition to my general shyness about that sort of thing, my general desire to not be a pain in anyone’s derriere, and my fairly laid back nature): each day that I worked on the book without having any deadlines, I was being virtuous and was totally ahead of the ballgame. The minute my editor and I spoke and we set a deadline, I would– no matter how far I was in the writing- be behind and in a mad rush to finish. I’m not going to lie: I like being virtuous far more than sweating a deadline.
I finally talked to my editor this past Friday and it seems the good deadline free times are over, and I have a deadline. The deadline for everything (and everything will be about 400 pages) is January 1 (which really, come on, means December 30– even for Little Miss In Bed By 9 PM on New Year’s Eve.). As of today, I am on page 270. So, 130 pages to go between now and December 30 except that I still need to edit all 400 pages.
So, here’s my plan: get it all written by December 4th and then heavy editting from December 4th to December 29th.
The curveball in all this: my worktime has gone down to 12 hours a week and that’s not just my book writing– that’s my freelance writing, teaching, lesson planning, paper grading, Circle de Luz organizing, and book writing time. Doable, but I’ll need to be disciplined. But the truth is that being on deadline really doesn’t change anything. I still approach my work exactly the same way. I do the math– to get the book done when I want to have it done, I need to write about 35 pages each week. I have 4 hours each week out of the 12 that I can guarantee to the book and that means I need to write at least 8-9 pages an hour. That means, I sit down at my computer for those hours. I close my email inbox and I pound out the words, even if they are not the most eloquent words in their first form. The key isn’t to wait until the brilliant words hit me. The key is to get something down on the page so that I can craft and mold it later. And that’s true for every finish line we want to approach, isn’t it? We figure out what we need to do to get to it and we just do it. Consistently. We pound out the words, the miles, the work. Ignoring the rules that say it won’t work, and embracing the part of our selves that says that it must.