Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Drop-Dead Date

This is it. The moment I have been living in terror of for weeks. Months. My final-final-finalest deadline. The deadline that I cannot miss. The ninth-life deadline. What is known charmingly in publishing as ... 


THE DROP-DEAD DATE.


That feels about right :-)

For the record, I have never tempted a drop-dead date before. I've never tortured an editor to this degree, or cut things so close, or ever had to know the term before. But this book is intricate and it is also biggish. (And still getting biggerish.) And it did not yield itself up to me on the first try or the seventeenth try. It was coy. It made me work for it. It made me do a lot of thinking, and a lot lot lot of putting myself in characters' shoes and asking, "What would I do here? What would I feel? What would I REALLY DO?" 

Did you ever see Stranger Than Fiction? I sometimes envision Emma Thompson standing at the edge of the building with her eyes closed, imagining jumping off -- she was trying to know what her character would really feel and do, and though I don't tend to get out of my chair or come near any edges of buildings (or in my case pick up any swords or trays of teeth), I *do* close my eyes and imagine. And I know too that I get a lot of weird expressions while I write, my face often mirroring the expressions of my characters, which is the worst part about writing in a cafe (that and all the delicious buttery smells of Things That Must Not Be Eaten). 

Anyway, the day approaches, and I am reduced to giggling hysteria. It's just so FUNNY that I really and truly must finish this book at last! When I look at what I've gotten written in the past couple of months, it's a lovely fat lot of writing, and I love this book, I love it so much, and finishing it will be the BEST. And there will be time for editing and revising after that, plenty of time for all the lovely futzing and perfecting that I adore, but this draft must go to my editors or I will DROP DEAD -- at least, I *think* that is what they mean by "drop-dead" date. Right, lovely editors? Impending doom? 

Well, whether I am literally going to drop dead or not, I'm not exactly relishing the next couple of weeks. (But I kind of am, too. The things one can do when one simple MUST? It's exciting!)

I'm spending tonight mainly in planning and mental preparation. I've put my IKEA Dignitet wires back to use. I think I mentioned this before, but maybe didn't show a pic?




That's the entire manuscript clipped up there for me to see. Some months ago I got to feeling like I couldn't hold the structure in my mind, I needed a visual aid, it was this nagging need in the back of my brain all the time, so this is what I did: hung these wires, printed out the manuscript, and hung it up chapter by chapter so I could see it all before me. It helped. When I got through that patch I didn't really need them anymore so I stopped using them until this week, I got that feeling again, that need to see it all before me, to better hold it in my mind. And it's so satisfying to see it! And I can put post-its up where I want to add a scene or switch the order around. And the best thing is I can print and hang each new chapter as it is finished. Alas, I'm already out of wire space. I'll need to squeeeeeeze those last few chapters in.

Anyway. If you wonder where I am in the next couple of weeks, I am there, in the above photo, hanging chapters up on a wire. 

And now, back to my mental preparation. Or maybe a shower? :-)





16 comments:

jennifer said...

Eeee I'm so thrilled and tenterhooked for you! (And, of course, for when I'll be able to read Days of Blood & Starlight with feverish hands.) It's always so fascinating to see different writers' writing spaces - I love the physical structuring of hanging your manuscript beside you. There's definitely something tactile and useful about seeing it laid out in paper. Good luck good luck good luck for that deadline! xx

ryan graudin said...

Please don't drop dead, Laini. Sending good writing mojo your way as you dive into deadline land!

Jen McConnel said...

I love that, instead of crumpling under pressure, you are exhilarated. You can do this, and we all can't wait to read the results!

Connie Onnie said...

Good luck!!! I need deadlines because I am a need the pressure of last minuet to get my mind to commit.

amy said...

Have a blast! Godspeed!

Kate said...

Good luck!!! You can do it!!! :) :) :) And I think the wires are a brilliant beyond brilliant idea!!! :) :) :)

Alysa said...

how thrilling! You should tape some footage of yourself so that you can have someone make it into a writer montage! you know what i'm talking about.

Joette Wangsgard said...

Good luck! Deadlines can be such a blessing and a curse!!!

Laurence King said...

I'm sending you tons of creative energy your way, Laini! You can do this... I cannot wait to read this new masterpiece of yours.

Rhiannon said...

Who are we kidding? You'll do a beautiful job! Enjoy and good luck! Make sure to fit in the occasional shower as a gift to Clementine and Jim, but you know, other than that make crazy faces and own it.

cidney swanson said...

Had to thank you for the wire-thing-y idea. I'm totally buying these the next time I drive up to Portland. Goodbye ugly tape marks on my wall. Thx!

Amanda said...

Yay - a visual of the famous IKEA Dignitet chapter holder! I emailed you a few weeks back about this so it's fun to see it in action. I'm facing one of those drop-dead dates myself so I sympathize with you (but mine is for a mere article and not a whole book!)

How fun to get a peek into your workspace, complete with decorative touches of masks and butterflies upon those hard-worked pages. Cannot wait to see them shapeshifted into their final book form.

Amanda said...

Squeeze the next few chapters in... or get a third wire. =) You know you want it!

KJ said...

I love the wires! Having pages "live" in the computer is just not the same as having them to hold in your hand.

sarahwedgbrow said...

Fingers crossed and lots of beady wishes being collected for you. Thanks so much for sharing your imagination with us!

Rachel Hanley said...

As impatient as I might be to get my hands on your next book, I admire writers who take as much time as they need to write the best book they can.

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