Friday, November 26, 2010


Deadlines vs clutter!

So, I'm sitting here looking out the window at the sun sparkling on ice-drenched tree branches, snow on roofs as the backdrop. And I'm feeling invigorated. Time to write. With the deadline for sending in my manuscript to the publisher less than a week away, I'm feeling the pressure.

The first draft was finished in August, before I left on my choir trip to Sicily. Since coming back, it's been re-written a couple of times, re-jigged, polished...and still there are those pesky xxx that mark a word or something that escaped me as I've gone through it. Time for deep research skills to come into play.

Another task is finding quotes. Not the cover type -- that will come much later in the process, I'm told. What I'm looking for are quotes from other books that will be placed at the beginning of each chapter. That's what the publisher wants...that's what the publisher will get. But finding them is a major task in itself. Note to self -- check with other Berkley authors who have similar bits at the opening of each chapter. How did they do this -- accumulate while reading all year long? Target certain authors? What's their secret?

I've been learning a lot in this writing process. Major lesson -- keep a running timeline handy as writing. If you have to go back at the end of the first draft to re-construct it, you'll be tearing your hair out. Or, uttering curses under your breath.

Now, I've done the screen edit, the paper edit, the read-aloud edit and am still working on the re-typing edit. This really is work, being a full-time writer. I have nothing but total admiration for those who manage to do it and still work outside the house.

Speaking of the house, I try to avoid looking at my floors these days. It would be so easy to give into the need to tidy the growing paper deluge. When did this start? Why, with new bookcases throughout my house, are the floors in my office once again piled high (in front of said bookcases) with stacks of magazine, newspapers, and books? Some is reference material, but not all. Charlotte Adams, where are you when you're needed?

And I won't even mention the TV room that has Rubbermaid bins of wrapping paper, bows and gift bags haphazardly decorating the floor. Life intrudes. Some Christmas gifts have to be mailed early, you know. How easy it would be to give into the pull to tidy all this clutter up, shove it away, and maybe vacuum. I'd feel virtuous and what better procrastination is there?

Ah, but that deadline's looming. I've always claimed I've worked better going up to deadlines. We'll see. Because as soon as this deadline is over, another starts up. But don't we all love it!

So, who claims to be organized enough to have both a book ready on deadline and a tidy home?

Linda Wiken/Erika Chase


  1. ah, the final stretch, good luck on ya, girl - i'm surprised that Berkeley wants quotes at this point of the production process, but then they might well typeset the book quicker than i'm used to - one note of caution: do NOT use song or movie dialog quotes, there are very real legal issues here

  2. Thanks for the tip, David. I'm trying to stick with short paragraphs or lines from mysteries...but have been known to stray.

  3. Not me! And I bet no one every whispered as they took their last breath, I wish I'd taken more time for housework!

    Even Charlotte says you have to set priorities and getting that book out is top of the list.