Nothin’ but friends and deadlines


So, today is my day to post. And I got nothing’.


Not a dang thing.


With that (nothin’) in mind, I’d like to chat about deadlines and the social lives of writers. Because both are on my mind. Deadlines, because I came home to two deadlines, manuscripts waiting on me here at the house, on the bottom of an eighteen-inch-high-stack of mail, most of it trash, but a goodly portion of that deadlines. And both editors (two different houses, two different editors, two different pennames both mine) want said books back by the first of September. Arrrg.


We’ve posted here about the necessity of meeting deadlines, and it’s true. Unless you have open heart surgery or your sig-other dies, you are expected to meet deadlines. The publisher’s and editor’s deadlines, arbitrarily assigned and often with no prior notice. And if you happen to miss a deadline that is included in the contract (like when the first draft of a book is due) they can cancel the contract and you have to pay them back whatever they paid you so far. Scary. But the reality of the business.


Have I personally missed that deadly kind of deadline? Um… Yeah. I did. By six months. I just screwed up on when the book was due and thought I had 12 months to write a book, so I signed another contract to do 2 (more) books in that time period. In case you got mind boggled or I said that wrong, I signed contracts for 3 books in 12 months. And I ain’t Catie in terms of word output. No where near.


Now ordinarily, I can write a book in 4 months. But I had trouble with one. A lot of trouble. And it took me longer. And I just got behinder and behinder. Thankfully, my editor knew me personally (by that time), had gotten a promotion, covered for me, and reassigned me into a slot later in the year. I didn’t have major problems from it, but I could have. It could have been the death of one of my pennames.


The two deadlines waiting for me this week are do-able in the timeframe assigned because one is a line and copy edit from people I’ve worked with a lot and can trust, and one is page proofs (galley) for a book that is about to be reissued in massmarket paperback. So I can set my butt on the couch with a tankard of tea and read and make notes and get both done fast. I can. But it cuts into my social time a bit. (grinning) Writers with social time. Hah!


Today I had lunch with Tamar Myers, mystery writer and longtime friend. I met Tamar when I had my first *big* book published in 1994. We lived, then, in the same town. She thought I was a big name because the advance amount had leaked out around town. (See my proud mama in this, anyone?). I thought she was a big name because she had several books out. Turns out we were both midlist, and destined to stay that way for awhile.


She tracked me down, called, and we met for lunch and hit it off right away. Even though we were both terminally shy. Really. (Stop laughing Misty. I was shy. I was! You too, David. Stop snickering.) Anyway, we still meet for lunch once a month, easier now that Tamar has moved back into the area. She’s moved around a lot. Today we met at the Cracker Barrel near Carowinds and had a very late breakfast of pancakes, and talked nonstop for 2 hours, getting caught up on each other’s lives and books. And I came away restored, relaxed, and rejuvenated in lots of ways. Tamar and I have gone through a lot of similar experiences during our time in print, and have shared our failures, successes, problems, and have listened to each other’s publishing war stories. And even though I have these deadlines whelming, and agent issues, and a new editor to learn, I am content because she understands completely.


Anytime I can sit with a writer and visit, debate, listen, and even disagree, I come away restored. Because it is a light in the bend of a dark tunnel. A moment of communal understanding and support along the lonely journey of being a writer. Thank you Tamar. And I thank all my writer friends for being there.


Back to the deadlines.








4 comments to Nothin’ but friends and deadlines

  • Good for you for making the time to see your friend, Faith. Social time is more than restorative (IMO); it’s also grist for the mill. We write relationships. We write friendships, rivalries, love affairs and breakups, life-long relationships and passing encounters. This is the currency in which we trade. To the extent that we need to restore our spirits with interaction, we also need to refill the experiential reservoir as well. This is not to say that my friendships are simply sources of writing material. Far from it. But I write what I know, and sometimes knowing that I have my own life, my own friends, my own story to tell to someone I care about, is very helpful when I go back to telling someone else’s tale.

  • >>This is not to say that my friendships are simply sources of writing material.>>

    Uhhuh. Right.

    I better not see a slightly pudgy mage with spiky blond hair and real cool jewelry show up in your next book.

    Umhum. Better not.


  • What if she shows up in mine, Faith? 🙂

  • I don’t know, Catie.
    Will she have a pelt and tail to go with the sparkly jewelry? Hummm. A were-snow-leopard with dangly earrings and painted toenails/claws?
    I could go for that!