Deadlines come and go

Barbie_green        From Loretta
      Coming in to you late from Deadline Hell.
      I don’t always call it that.  Deadline Dementia is one term.  Deadline Frenzy another.  It depends on how desperate I’m feeling.  But this week, as Friday (my extended due date) approached, Deadline Hell was the only word for it.  I woke up in a panic at 5am on Thursday and was still working at 10pm, formatting my deathless prose into a single document, and trying to make sure I kept the chapters and pages straight. when I was cross-eyed with exhaustion.  Please note:  I am not an early riser and no longer eighteen years old, so I tire more and earlier than I used to.  Five ante meridian to midnight in front of the computer is not something I do well.
      The formatting was necessary because I write my chapters as separate documents.  That way, if the file gets damaged by one of those inexplicable computer occurrences we all know so well, it’s only the one chapter, not the whole manuscript.  The last thing I want to do when racing toward deadline, brakes squealing, is have a 400-500 page opus implode before my bloodshot eyes. Delahaye_auto_edited2  I’ve got enough problems.  Like the refrigerator.  But I’ll get to that in a minute.
      I don’t know how it is for the other Wenches, but when I turn in my book the first time, it’s done but not finished, in the sense of polished.  I write incrementally, going back and forth, adding , subtracting, rearranging.  As a result, and depending on how smoothly or not the book has gone, I can get confused, or fail to notice contradictions or missing bits or various other writerly infelicities.  This is why the revision phase is one of my favorite parts of writing (the best part is the beginning, when it’s all potential, and one is not slamming one’s head against one’s limitations).  At revision time, the heavy lifting of creating something out of nothing is done.  One or more sets of editorial eyes have cast their gazes over the work, and noticed what I–being so deeply immersed in the process of world building and living inside imaginary peoples’ heads–did not.  I’ve been fortunate in the editorial eyes department:  Can’t think of a time when the objective viewpoint hasn’t helped make a better book.
      All of which is to say that, given the fact that this book is due to come out in May 2007, the revision phase is not going to be a leisurely one.  I’m seeing maybe one or more 5am to midnight days in the very near future.
      Meanwhile, my refrigerator croaked.
      And I ignored it, as I ignore so many things during the last month before the book Must Be Done.  We made do with a small office refrigerator and takeout.
      Meanwhile, a lot of other things happened, and I ignored them, too.  Cancelled appointments.  Forgot birthdays or had a gift shipped to me instead of to the intended recipient.  Ignoring the phone.  That kind of thing.  Everything goes to hell when I’m facing deadline.  About the only thing in my mind is the story.  It’s too bad my office isn’t a cargo container.  I could have it shipped to a desert island, then, and not even pretend to be having anything to do with the real world.  I have toyed with the idea of going away to finish a book but (a) we all know now that I could cook better on a laptop than I can write on one and (b) I need my library within reach.  So I stay home and let everything go to pieces around me.
      I’ll be spending the next month answering the emails I ignored, finishing the interviews I didn’t finish, finding various articles I’ve lost, putting away books and notebooks, and going through the stacks of papers that need to be filed.  I remember, back in the 80s, hearing predictions about the Paperless Office.  Remember that one?  It seemed so logical at the time.  I don’t know about anyone else, but my office has about three times as much paper as it did back in the days when my Wang Word Processor was the height of high tech.
      The office, in short, is a disaster.  The kitchen isn’t much better.
      And my blog is late because I was out for hours trying to find a refrigerator.
      Nope.  Didn’t find it.  I’m beginning to think that my husband will have better luck building a time machine than we will have finding the refrigerator we want.  Since I expect to be doing revisions at warp speed next week, today was THE day for buying appliances–or food, for that matter.
      I don’t care.  I love my job.  I love the book I just finished, even though I know I’m going to lose sleep and spend some blood, sweat, and tears making it better.  It’s all worth it to me.
      And this just in:  Time Machine Guy reports that he’s bought the refrigerator online.

18 thoughts on “Deadlines come and go”

  1. Yay for Time Machine Guy, who was able to buy the right fridge online! You have yourself a winner there.
    And I, for one, am willing to wait till you dig yourself out from under in return for your peerless books. Can’t wait to see what you do to the youngest Carsington lad!
    As to “paperless offices” that are buried under a blizzard of crazed papers–if I had a sense of shame, my office would be a source of humiliation. Instead, I look at the mess and think that it would really be easier to write another book….
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  2. Yay for Time Machine Guy, who was able to buy the right fridge online! You have yourself a winner there.
    And I, for one, am willing to wait till you dig yourself out from under in return for your peerless books. Can’t wait to see what you do to the youngest Carsington lad!
    As to “paperless offices” that are buried under a blizzard of crazed papers–if I had a sense of shame, my office would be a source of humiliation. Instead, I look at the mess and think that it would really be easier to write another book….
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  3. Yay for Time Machine Guy, who was able to buy the right fridge online! You have yourself a winner there.
    And I, for one, am willing to wait till you dig yourself out from under in return for your peerless books. Can’t wait to see what you do to the youngest Carsington lad!
    As to “paperless offices” that are buried under a blizzard of crazed papers–if I had a sense of shame, my office would be a source of humiliation. Instead, I look at the mess and think that it would really be easier to write another book….
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  4. Loretta… you are so funny. I love reading your posts.
    IMHO, there’s nothing worse in life than being bored and nothing better than going mach 2 with your hair on fire. It’s the only way to live… for me anyway.
    In my unpublished naiveté, I’m looking forward to racing a deadline, running myself flat out. And, since my paperless office is already overrun by stacks of books, toppling magazines and a flurry of unfilled papers, of which only my husband is ashamed, I am wondering what else will become of my workspace while on the publishing track. Perhaps I shall add a Kleenex box and a punching bag for those moments when I am ruing the day I ever decided I wanted to do this.
    –the littlest wenchling, going back to work, researching the mysteries behind Glastonbury Tor.
    P.S. Congrats on you new frig. So glad your dh didn’t have to build a time machine to find it. Although a time machine might actually be more useful than a frig. *g*

    Reply
  5. Loretta… you are so funny. I love reading your posts.
    IMHO, there’s nothing worse in life than being bored and nothing better than going mach 2 with your hair on fire. It’s the only way to live… for me anyway.
    In my unpublished naiveté, I’m looking forward to racing a deadline, running myself flat out. And, since my paperless office is already overrun by stacks of books, toppling magazines and a flurry of unfilled papers, of which only my husband is ashamed, I am wondering what else will become of my workspace while on the publishing track. Perhaps I shall add a Kleenex box and a punching bag for those moments when I am ruing the day I ever decided I wanted to do this.
    –the littlest wenchling, going back to work, researching the mysteries behind Glastonbury Tor.
    P.S. Congrats on you new frig. So glad your dh didn’t have to build a time machine to find it. Although a time machine might actually be more useful than a frig. *g*

    Reply
  6. Loretta… you are so funny. I love reading your posts.
    IMHO, there’s nothing worse in life than being bored and nothing better than going mach 2 with your hair on fire. It’s the only way to live… for me anyway.
    In my unpublished naiveté, I’m looking forward to racing a deadline, running myself flat out. And, since my paperless office is already overrun by stacks of books, toppling magazines and a flurry of unfilled papers, of which only my husband is ashamed, I am wondering what else will become of my workspace while on the publishing track. Perhaps I shall add a Kleenex box and a punching bag for those moments when I am ruing the day I ever decided I wanted to do this.
    –the littlest wenchling, going back to work, researching the mysteries behind Glastonbury Tor.
    P.S. Congrats on you new frig. So glad your dh didn’t have to build a time machine to find it. Although a time machine might actually be more useful than a frig. *g*

    Reply
  7. A refrigerator online? do they deliver? the mind boggles. But they’re kind of essential for keeping all the frozen meals for eating while moving toward deadline.
    My first drafts are always a reckless tangle of contradiction and I’d be terrified to turn them in like that. I edit and polish and revise before the deadline, and still have more to do after objective eyes see it. So count yourself lucky that your prose is that clean!

    Reply
  8. A refrigerator online? do they deliver? the mind boggles. But they’re kind of essential for keeping all the frozen meals for eating while moving toward deadline.
    My first drafts are always a reckless tangle of contradiction and I’d be terrified to turn them in like that. I edit and polish and revise before the deadline, and still have more to do after objective eyes see it. So count yourself lucky that your prose is that clean!

    Reply
  9. A refrigerator online? do they deliver? the mind boggles. But they’re kind of essential for keeping all the frozen meals for eating while moving toward deadline.
    My first drafts are always a reckless tangle of contradiction and I’d be terrified to turn them in like that. I edit and polish and revise before the deadline, and still have more to do after objective eyes see it. So count yourself lucky that your prose is that clean!

    Reply
  10. My own version of Deadline Hell would be those weeks when I start my sermon at 10 pm on Saturday night, knowing that it has to be drafted, edited and polished–and that I have to be washed, dressed, robed and in pumps–in order to deliver it at 10 the next morning! Happens far too often. Desperation is a fine motivator for me and I am actually quite profound in the wee hours when I have been purified by coffee, Cheetos, and exhaustion. After many years of watching me do this my husband now goes peacefully to sleep on Saturday night–no worries–because, he says, there is always a sermon before dawn and it is always good.
    Loretta, whenever I read one of your books now I will think of the many hours of Deadline Hell you endured as you were preparing it for all of us. I hope you know that all your effort is appreciated by your readers who know that between the covers of a Loretta Chase book we will always find something good. For me, reading one of your books is like jumping on board a moving train–the book just grabs me, hauls me aboard a story going lickety split, and we’re off headlong into romance and adventure. You are a master storyteller!

    Reply
  11. My own version of Deadline Hell would be those weeks when I start my sermon at 10 pm on Saturday night, knowing that it has to be drafted, edited and polished–and that I have to be washed, dressed, robed and in pumps–in order to deliver it at 10 the next morning! Happens far too often. Desperation is a fine motivator for me and I am actually quite profound in the wee hours when I have been purified by coffee, Cheetos, and exhaustion. After many years of watching me do this my husband now goes peacefully to sleep on Saturday night–no worries–because, he says, there is always a sermon before dawn and it is always good.
    Loretta, whenever I read one of your books now I will think of the many hours of Deadline Hell you endured as you were preparing it for all of us. I hope you know that all your effort is appreciated by your readers who know that between the covers of a Loretta Chase book we will always find something good. For me, reading one of your books is like jumping on board a moving train–the book just grabs me, hauls me aboard a story going lickety split, and we’re off headlong into romance and adventure. You are a master storyteller!

    Reply
  12. My own version of Deadline Hell would be those weeks when I start my sermon at 10 pm on Saturday night, knowing that it has to be drafted, edited and polished–and that I have to be washed, dressed, robed and in pumps–in order to deliver it at 10 the next morning! Happens far too often. Desperation is a fine motivator for me and I am actually quite profound in the wee hours when I have been purified by coffee, Cheetos, and exhaustion. After many years of watching me do this my husband now goes peacefully to sleep on Saturday night–no worries–because, he says, there is always a sermon before dawn and it is always good.
    Loretta, whenever I read one of your books now I will think of the many hours of Deadline Hell you endured as you were preparing it for all of us. I hope you know that all your effort is appreciated by your readers who know that between the covers of a Loretta Chase book we will always find something good. For me, reading one of your books is like jumping on board a moving train–the book just grabs me, hauls me aboard a story going lickety split, and we’re off headlong into romance and adventure. You are a master storyteller!

    Reply
  13. I am soooo psyched! March, huh? I can’t wait.
    Can you tell us a little about it? Please? Please?
    PS Get a ‘frig with the freezer on the bottom. It’s very, very convenient with little loss of space (unlike the side-by-side kind). I mean, how often do you go into your freezer vs. go into the ‘frig?

    Reply
  14. I am soooo psyched! March, huh? I can’t wait.
    Can you tell us a little about it? Please? Please?
    PS Get a ‘frig with the freezer on the bottom. It’s very, very convenient with little loss of space (unlike the side-by-side kind). I mean, how often do you go into your freezer vs. go into the ‘frig?

    Reply
  15. I am soooo psyched! March, huh? I can’t wait.
    Can you tell us a little about it? Please? Please?
    PS Get a ‘frig with the freezer on the bottom. It’s very, very convenient with little loss of space (unlike the side-by-side kind). I mean, how often do you go into your freezer vs. go into the ‘frig?

    Reply
  16. LOL, Mary Jo. Good point. It would be easier.
    Nina, the time machine would definitely be more useful. I could travel back to Great Meals I Have Cooked, without having to cook them again.
    Pat, we have no idea how this refrigerator thing is going to happen. We’re just crossing our fingers. And someday I would love to see a whole “first draft” of one of my books, a la one of those Write a Novel in Month programs. I keep thinking it has to be more efficient than my back and forth method. But the closest I come to a first draft is the outline. Aargh.
    RevMelinda, I would find it much more daunting to compose a sermon in the wee hours of Sunday morning. And thank you so much for the Atta Girl, which goes a long way to reviving my weary spirit.
    Blue Angel, NOT QUITE A LADY is the fourth Carsington book, with the youngest son Darius as hero (yes, Jo and I have given our heroes the same far from common name). He has been deemed the most aggravating of the Carsington men, so of course he gets a heroine who’s going to aggravate him. As I dig out from under, I’ll be updating my website–at last–and providing more info about the story.

    Reply
  17. LOL, Mary Jo. Good point. It would be easier.
    Nina, the time machine would definitely be more useful. I could travel back to Great Meals I Have Cooked, without having to cook them again.
    Pat, we have no idea how this refrigerator thing is going to happen. We’re just crossing our fingers. And someday I would love to see a whole “first draft” of one of my books, a la one of those Write a Novel in Month programs. I keep thinking it has to be more efficient than my back and forth method. But the closest I come to a first draft is the outline. Aargh.
    RevMelinda, I would find it much more daunting to compose a sermon in the wee hours of Sunday morning. And thank you so much for the Atta Girl, which goes a long way to reviving my weary spirit.
    Blue Angel, NOT QUITE A LADY is the fourth Carsington book, with the youngest son Darius as hero (yes, Jo and I have given our heroes the same far from common name). He has been deemed the most aggravating of the Carsington men, so of course he gets a heroine who’s going to aggravate him. As I dig out from under, I’ll be updating my website–at last–and providing more info about the story.

    Reply
  18. LOL, Mary Jo. Good point. It would be easier.
    Nina, the time machine would definitely be more useful. I could travel back to Great Meals I Have Cooked, without having to cook them again.
    Pat, we have no idea how this refrigerator thing is going to happen. We’re just crossing our fingers. And someday I would love to see a whole “first draft” of one of my books, a la one of those Write a Novel in Month programs. I keep thinking it has to be more efficient than my back and forth method. But the closest I come to a first draft is the outline. Aargh.
    RevMelinda, I would find it much more daunting to compose a sermon in the wee hours of Sunday morning. And thank you so much for the Atta Girl, which goes a long way to reviving my weary spirit.
    Blue Angel, NOT QUITE A LADY is the fourth Carsington book, with the youngest son Darius as hero (yes, Jo and I have given our heroes the same far from common name). He has been deemed the most aggravating of the Carsington men, so of course he gets a heroine who’s going to aggravate him. As I dig out from under, I’ll be updating my website–at last–and providing more info about the story.

    Reply

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