There is a famous quote about deadlines. Maybe you’ve heard it? “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” Got to love Douglas Adams.
A writer’s life is full of deadlines. As I sit here and write this, I am reminded not only of my deadline to get this blog article completed by Sunday, but that I am writing this instead of working on the first draft of a novel that is due at the end of the month. Well, technically, by March 1st. Why subtract a day from my already onerous deadline? Upon this second deadline I must comment. As it’s rumored that authors do, I have attempted, on a near daily basis, to get this deadline extended with my oh so dear editor. My editor is more stubborn than trying to move a bull when he’s spotted a cow in heat. In other words, the deadline has remained unchanged.
In all honesty, though, the deadline is obtainable. I just enjoy razzing my editor. Now, if it was a professional editor for a publisher, I doubt I’d get to have this fun.
Back to the point. Deadlines. Every author faces them. Sometimes they’re manageable, sometimes you want to murder your editor/publisher/agent over them. I tend to work fairly well under deadlines. I had to do it all the time in college, after all. My senior year, I had three papers and a short screenplay due on the same day! I did pretty well, too. Only missed writing one of the papers, a short one for the screenwriting class, which the professor forgave and let me make up. (Why, yes, I was a lucky you-know-what, haha!)
The problem with deadlines, from where I stand, is when life gets in the way. Or, more to the point, when your other job gets in the way. See, I’m still new to this published author thing (not to the writing thing, which I’ve been doing for 2/3rds of my life now). My first novel, Hope’s Shadow (why yes, that was a plug), was published this past August. And I’m no Patrick Rothfuss or J.K. Rowling, with my first novel being a huge hit. I wish I was, but the sad truth is (which I’ve always known), Rothfuss and Rowling, et al, are flukes. They are not the norm. First time novelists seldom sell well.
So, in the meantime, while I’m not even making enough to pay bills with the royalties from Hope’s Shadow, I have to keep my day job. Which means long hours, sometimes leaving me too exhausted to concentrate on writing. (I spend my days photographing children. It’s not as easy as it sounds, and if it doesn’t sound easy…then you may have a better idea of what I’m talking about.) Nevertheless, when I manage to have days off or the rare half day, I try to spend as much time writing as possible. And when I have a deadline to meet, that sometimes means certain things don’t get done. Like dishes, or the basket full of work clothes that need to be ironed. Or going to the gym… Or going out and socializing in this new city I moved to 4 months ago and still have no friends - outside of work - in…
So why do I do it? Why do I spend my “free” time working a second job that has little to no monetary gain when I could be, I don’t know, watching TV, going to the movies, clubbing, working out, socializing? The answer is simple. Writing is a part of me. Taking it away would be like cutting out my heart. So what if I have to face deadlines and working another job and being dirt poor? I knew what I was getting myself into when I started writing. It never scared me before. And now that I have one book published, I am all too eager to see another one done. Because one day I know I’ll be able to sell enough books that I can make a living off my writing.
Failing that, I suppose I could always marry a rich man. (I kid, of course! Moderately wealthy will be sufficient. Haha.)
In any case… Hey, look, I met a deadline! Which means, I should return to trying to meet the other one. If anyone hears a really loud WHOOOOOSHing sound on March 1st, know that it is the sound of me missing a deadline. It will be followed the next day by a very loud WHUMP as my editor, ahem, teaches me never to miss another deadline. (Little does he know, mwahahahahahaha!)
So, keep an ear out, ‘kay?