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.