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. 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.