Monday, September 06, 2010

The grim beauty of a deadline

I was chastened to see how long it's been since my last blog post. Many thanks to writer Talli Roland for leaving a comment on my last entry and reminding me that people do actually read this blog.

It's been an astonishing summer, work-wise. Things have just blossomed and ballooned, on a number of fronts. That's partly why this blog has been so silent, as I've been trying to spend some quality time with my three youngest children over their summer holidays at the same time as getting up to speed on some rapid developments in my career as a writer and editor.

I'll confine my comments today to my novel, since that's the least complicated situation. It's a long Tudor historical, set in 1575, and features Elizabeth 1st as a point-of-view character. Though the novel is not actually about the queen, per se. It's about one of her court entertainers. More I am reluctant to say at this stage. But the book is just over halfway through, and I've agreed to finish it by the end of the first week in October.

That's a tall order. We're talking roughly 60,000 words in just over 4 weeks. But it's not an impossible task. I need to knuckle down to a serious daily word count, improve my time management, and say 'No, thanks' to nearly all offers of other work.

What's brilliant in all this is that I'm up against it so severely, and have so many other things revolving about in my head whilst writing, that I am very unlikely to suffer from 'can't finish it' syndrome. That tends to strike when you have nothing else but the novel to consume you, and it's so large in the window the thought of waking up one day to an empty view begins to terrify you.

So you put off finishing for as long as possible, and keep polishing instead, or making 'necessary' changes, or suddenly get absorbed in some other non-writing activity that takes you away from the keyboard, or obsess about other, far better stories you could be writing.

Thank goodness for deadlines, that's what I say. The sine qua non of novel writing.

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