Saturday, April 17, 2010

In Praise of Deadlines

Ok, I admit it, I can be a lazy writer, or at least it feels that way sometimes. I can take a a year to write a first chapter because I keep fiddling with the words, fussing with a sentence to the point of being ridiculous (Should it read, "He ran to the store" or "He ran"?) Maybe it isn't really being lazy at all. Maybe it has to do with not wanting to let this glorious writing stage go into the next panic-inducing stage of giving pages to my agent and then to my editor. The sort of "proof is in the pudding" stage.

For the past year, while I've been doing page proofs and edits for my new novel Pictures of You (Algonquin! November 2!) I've been working with two new novels at once. I threw out two hundred pages on each. I finally--because it felt too Schizophrenic to me--settled on one novel, (I'll do the other one later) and I began once again writing and writing and writing and never getting further than Chapter one.

So I did the only thing I knew how to do that might work. I had someone give me a really tight, nearly impossible deadline. While at lunch with my beloved agent, I told her what was going on and begged her to give me a timetable. "June 1, three chapters," she told me. "We'll submit as a partial." I was thrilled! June!! That was a short enough amount of time to kickstart me into letting this novel go. Then, I contacted a writer friend, a smart, serious critic and begged her to look at three chapters for me before I sent them off. "May 1," she said. Even better!

So now, I guess you could say I'm a little possessed. I have to let go, have to push forward now, have to stop worrying about the perfect sentence and move more into the story as a whole. My writing feels different now with this deadline, more feverish, more involved, and to my absolute delight, less judgmental.

Now, if only someone would give me a deadline for my script.....


a gracious plenty said...

good for you.
and less judgmental is always good.
enjoy the work!

Gina Sorell said...

Oh deadlines!! Gotta love 'em, gotta loathe 'em. But they sure do make us write!!