21 March 2007

Musings on Deadlines

In less than a week's time the deadline for my next manuscript is going to hit me over the head. Apparently some people write really, really well the closer their deadlines; why, some people even need their deadlines to write really, really well.

Shall I let you into a secret?

I'm not one of these people.

Oh no! I go into full panic mode at the mere thought of a deadline, while my Muse apparently wanders off into la-la-wonderland. As a result my characters start to behave in the strangest ways imaginable: heroes throw temper tantrums, heroines hold knives against somebody else's throat or start thinking about contraception (which I blame on a recent discussion on Smart Bitches).

As if this weren't bad enough, gaping holes suddenly open up in the background research, like

  • "Is there really a breed of sheep called Blackheads?" (No, there isn't, but there's a breed called Scottish Blackfaces - lovely!)
  • "What the heck does the borametz (barometz???) in the British Museum look like?" (I swear I stumbled across a pic some months ago. Now, of course, said pic has vanished into cyber-nirvana.)
  • "Is a Sicilian Dragon really called a Sicilian Dragon in English?" (Yes, apparently, it is.)
  • "Does every guest bedroom also have a separate dressing room?" (Uhm ... no clue.)
  • "Did (filthy rich) people in the Regency already have greenhouses in their gardens where they could grow veggies and flowers in winter?" (Yes, they had! Hurray!)

And as if this weren't bad enough, I've also reached that stage where I think I'm surely the worst writer EVER! Worse even than the dinosaurs had they been able to type on a keyboard! Such a horrible writer actually, that upon reading the first page of my manuscript, my agent and editor will both move to another city, change their names, and will pretend not to know me should we meet by chance at the next RWA conference. OR they will hide behind the nearest potted plant. OR they will simply run away screaming.

Oh yes. I absolutely love deadlines. They make for a jolly good writing time! *g*


Jen said...

I've imagined that I wouldn't like deadlines, either, and would get anxious as they approached. Now I'm terrified, imagining it! Thanks! LOL!

Michelle Styles said...

I adore deadlines. I make sure my deadlines give me enough time to write my book and they are achievable.
Deadlines are a fact of life once you are contracted. So you do need to know how you work best and how much time approximately it will take to complete your novel.
My next Viking is due tomorrow and it will be with my editor -- even if I am a bit brain dead today for doing my final edits.

Sandra Schwab said...

Michelle, deadlines were a fact of my life even before I got my publishing contract. But it really doesn't matter whether it's deadlines for academic articles/papers, for encyclopedia entries (waaaargh!), or for novels: they make me panic each and every time. And it's not even about meeting them (which I do manage most of the time), it's simply, well, the deadline.