Sunday, April 4, 2010

In praise of deadlines

Usually if I don't have a deadline, I can spend three whole months on one sentence. I've been working on this new novel set in the 1950s for almost a year now. I was working on another novel at the same time, and then shelved it to work on this one, called The Missing Ones (at least for now. I'm not very good with titles, but that's a whole other story.) A few months ago, I realized I had no idea what I was doing and began talking the story out with another writer and finally realized what the main thread was. Throwing out 200 pages wasn't easy, but at last I felt that I knew what I was writing about. I felt what I needed to write towards.

Last week, I had lunch with my adored agent and she asked what was ready to be shown, and I had a revelation. If I told her I would have something to her by, say June, then I'd really have to work hard. I'd have to produce. No more sitting on one sentence for weeks. "I'll have a few chapters to show you by June," I said.

So, after being weak with nerves and nauseous (Could I do this? Was I insane? Wouldn't it be better to just hold on tight to the pages I have rather than risk failure?) I set to work. I've been putting in ten hour days, but I have two chapters and 40 pages that don't make me want to flay my own skin off. I have a third chapter brewing. I feel feverish with excitement, manic with drive, and so, so happy to be writing. And even better, if this does sell on a partial, than I'll have another deadline for the full ms. And to me, well that's just bliss.


a gracious plenty said...

while i love the work of writing, love the writing itself, it is good to have deadlines. it is good to be focused ahead, to know where you want to be and when.
good luck with the deadline. enjoy the fever, mania, and happiness.

AddledWriter said...

"Usually if I don't have a deadline, I can spend three whole months on one sentence."

I know the feeling...and I have to kick that habit!!!