Deadlines

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Reading and signing
My first novel in print… a very exciting moment. Now, I’m working towards the third.

Reading, writing, researching…I am hard at work on the novel in progress, and looking at my deadline for completion coming up far too quickly. Writing is a tertiary career, at the moment, behind my business and school. Not to mention a little family time now and again. Personal time? Well, that is when I get sick, right?

Chasing a deadline like this, as an independent publisher, might seem at first glance to be foolish, or unnecessary. I could push it out further, easily. I don’t have a team of people breathing down my neck to get the manuscript turned in on time, with monetary penalties should I miss that deadline. But the reality, if I look at my own life and the demands on my time, and even more, on my mental capacity, mean that if I want this book to come out in a timely fashion, I must finish it by the end of the month.

Once school starts back up at the end of January, I won’t be able to take a couple of hours a day and devote them to writing. I have a heavy class load, as always, and there’s work. I have learned that my creative brain shuts down under the strain, so I can’t even count on writing when I do find time to sit at the keyboard. Oddly, I usually have no trouble producing non-fiction, like blog posts and papers.

Pixie Noir is selling very well, which brings a whole new demand into my life. I have fans now, readers who are wanting the next book in the series. I can’t and won’t let my readers dictate to me, but I know that unless a sequel appears in a timely fashion, those sales numbers will slow, dip, and fall away entirely. Which is why I set my goal of writing a novel over Winter Break in the first place. I have 14 days, and 30,000 words to go. I can do this.

I’m writing some days not at all, and other days almost 5,000 words, but most days I’m hitting my word-count goal of 2,300. The holidays slowed me down a little, but not too badly as I wound up not travelling this year. I’d discovered before, when writing to a deadline, that mentally it works for me. I set my daily goals, have my loose outline, and go to it. This book hasn’t been as easy as the first one was.

I find that I write action much more easily than I do introversion, and Trickster Noir is very much a bridge book, with adjustments to new lives and soul-searching. So it’s slow going for me, the author. I find myself wanting to pull Raymond Chandler’s advice for boring scenes, and have a man with a gun walk through the door. But some of the inner work is necessary, for my characters to grow, and that’s important to me, as an author, to create a world, and the lives in it, as real and fully-developed as possible. Even if it means missing my own deadline and pushing the release date back.

I can, after all, I’m my own boss. Which is the horrible and grand thing about how I have chosen to walk the road to publication. I can push myself much harder than someone else could. Fortunately, I have a partner who is good about reminding me to stop, eat, take a break…

What do you, as a writer, do with your goals? Do you set deadlines, or just let the story come out at it’s own pace?

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