Monday, March 12, 2007

Debra - Deadlines & Daylight Savings

I have exactly 18 minutes to make my deadline for a short story.

I would have had an hour and 18 minutes but Daylight Savings swooped in like an over-eager buzzard and ripped off a large chunk of my deadline clock.

So, I'm playing the deadline game.

I really have 8 hours and 18 minutes as long as I email my story by tomorrow morning.

Wait. No. I only have 7 hours and 16 minutes because the editor is in Eastern Standard Time.

Welcome to the warped world of writing where everything is measured by "how long 'til deadline."

The good news is that as soon as I finish the blog which gives me a much needed break from the story, I can settle back in for the last push.

I'm at that stage of any story when all the pieces are in place. Snippets of dialogue are written either in my scene notes files or in my head. You know where it's going to play out and what the characters are going to do. Everything you've set up has brought you to this place. You can see the finish line. You can't control how long it takes to get there but it really is just a matter of fingers on keyboard.

Lest you think badly of me, I couldn't change the fact that my deadline was in my busiest season of the year as a consultant. I couldn't change the fact that my son called yesterday and said, 'I think I broke my hand." Anybody been in an emergency room on a weekend lately? Yep. We were there a while. Not to mention the time it took to convince my son that a wait-and-see policy might not be the best thing for your dominant hand. (No, not broken on first xray reading. Nasty sprain. Sling for 3 days unless they call after the second set of people read the xray, which is standard.)

I wasn't able to write while there but I did get a ridiculously tangled skein of thread untangled and rolled. Woohoo, me!

And I took a movie break before that because I had all Saturday to write. Ha.

The ends of stories and books are like mirages sometimes. You can see them but you can't quite touch them and the camel train is heading down the track straight for you.

What do you do when your plans go kaboom! Do you push more? Accept that life is life and you'll finish when you finish? Are you someone who simply can't continue to work because the quality suffers? Are you someone who amazes yourself by writing/doing some of your best work which pushed to the wall?


Betina Krahn said...

No big surprise here. . . I write best and most with my back against a wall. Never used to be like that, just. . . evolved. If I have time or can wangle it, I take advantage of it. Of course, my production suffers, so. . . I'm trying to reform and make writing a more "professional" process for myself.

In my defense, I've had life blow up on me a number of times. . . and big blow-ups, not just little tempest in a teacup things. so I was trained by the Cosmos to expect trauma and chaos whenever I get heavily into the writing. Hmmm. Could be why I avoid it sometimes. . .

Debra Dixon said...


I'm staggering, bleary-eyed, to the computer but I made the deadline.

Sometimes I think I write better to deadline because I give myself permission to zone out the rest of the world. It's not my responsibility for a while. And in accepting that I can have such clear focus. I'm not fractured in a thousand pieces and pulled a million ways.

Christie Ridgway said...

Yeah, Deb, on making your deadline! Like Betina, I'm often against the wall, but with my kids the ages they are I think I have to accept that for now. There's always something--like broken hands (glad your son is not too bad off) or sports or something for school--that requires my attention.

I hope, and think, that my subconscious is working on the book when I can't be in my chair. At least I hope it is!

Michele said...

I don't like to be againt the wall. I have to hand in a mss at least a week early, or I consider it late. Of course, if I have an appointment I'm late if I'm not 5 minutes early as well.

Yes, I'm one of THOSE people. :-)

But my current editor is training me to work fast and furious (not that she actually said this; it's just how things have been working out lately) because sometimes I won't get edit suggestions until the thirteenth hour. Very frustrating, but I'm trying to play nice.

I'm not sure I do my best work in a rush. But then again, if I feel I have a leisurely deadline, then I think I tend to waste more time than I should, and don't really buckle down to the process.


Cindy Gerard said...

I have run the gammit from planning out number of pages needed per day to meet deadline and actually accomplishing my goal, to backing myself up against the deadline wall and writing until the wee hours of the morning.
I used to maintain that it was all about discipline but the longer I write, the more I think it's about the whim of the phyche. Sometimes you can comfortably manage a deadline and sometimes it's a sprint to the finish. As Betina says, life happens. Sometimes it's rough and the writing is a balm to get you through it but sometimes the writing suffers when you do.
Sounds to me like we are all - well except maybe for Michele:o) - prone to the term paper mentallity style of meeting the dreaded D.
Nice to know I'm in such excellent company.

Helen Brenna said...

Glad you made your deadline, Deb. Hope your corporate tax deadlines get met as well!

I seem to put enough pressure on myself to meet deadlines, that I don't do well under additional external pressure. I think I panic a little and freeze when other people are breathing down my neck. I was always the kid who was ahead on my homework, would never dream of cramming all night for a test. Although, unlike Michele, I'm always late for appointments. LOL!

I haven't quite figured out how I work all that into a writing schedule. Talk to me in a year!

lois greiman said...

I like to worry. That's right. I said it. I need the rush of, I can't ever get this done on time. I mean, it's not as if I don't plan. I do. And I get my alloted pages done usually, but in the end I like to hurry, to worry, to fret and make the rest of the world go away so I can do that. Cuz...I'm sick.

Susan Kay Law said...

I like deadlines. I always crammed for tests the night before, printed out papers the second before I had to walk to class.

That said, I never used to be actually late with work. But when life interferes, now I just accept it. Because it never seems to matter that much - a day here, a week there. Because I've too often sent something that had to be there NOW in, and then had it sit there for three weeks. Kind of takes the pressure away.

Susie, who now really, really must do her taxes