Tuesday, January 22, 2008


By Lynn Sholes
Deadlines are killers and saviors. I am sitting on one now and my life is dictated by it. However, I have found that a deadline can be a good excuse. That little nephews birthday party I didn’t want to go to—well, sorry, can’t make it——the deadline. And then there is the silly girl thing every Wednesday night where all the women get together and have their bash. Bridge, Mahjong, Bunko, or simply dinner and margaritas. Now don’t get me wrong, I love margaritas, and I love my girlfriends, but every Wednesday night gets to be old. Just taking the break from it is more exciting.

But deadlines suck big time. I can’t get out all my creativity. I know the book would be much better if I had all the time I wanted to write it——like the first book. I wrote when I felt like it, when I was inspired and I wrote good stuff——I thought at the time. Well, maybe I wrote acceptable stuff, not good stuff. But, oh, to have that leisure again, not to sell on a proposal with a delivery date. The thrill would be back. Kind of like making love in the back seat of a Chevy. Not something planned, just something that exploded in the moment. Not that I ever did that, but I sure have fantasized it. I’d like to write like that again, from the gut, from the heart, with all the time in the world to express myself. But that ain’t what the business is all about. So when I read some poor author whose latest seems to fall flat, I’ll keep that in mind.

Meanwhile, back to the keyboard and chapter whatever. Another day, another fifty-cents.


Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Right on target, Lynn. I've used the "deadline" excuse myself. And it's not lying because I'm ALWAYS on deadline.

I find that I often write my best under the gun. Something about the adrenaline pumping from my brain to my fingers. But after I feel like an overused dishrag.

Happy Deadline!

Sue Ann

Nina Wright said...

Lynn--You make 50 cents a day?! Wow, I am seriously underpaid.

I think all of us who commit to writing a series (or two or three) are perpetually on deadline. Being consistently creative under pressure proves we are professionals. But because we're human, some days go better than others; some books are better than others. We carry on. That's not to say we don't dream about doing it as if powered only by the Muse.

Take a break now and then, even if you forgo the margaritas!


Mark Combes said...

I, of course, picked up on the Chevy comment. Margaritas and Chevy's on a hot Florida night...that sounds like a story right there. Or maybe a Jimmy Buffett song....

Felicia Donovan said...

Lynn, fifty cents a day won't buy you many margaritas.

I don't work better under deadline. The adrenaline doesn't pump from my brain to my fingers like Sue Ann. It gets lost somewhere in between. I'm probably sitting on it. I do admire those who funtion better under deadline, though.

Candy Calvert said...

Lynn, I knew one the MEN would pick up on the Chevy line!

So now I'm wondering (in the POV of a practical, senstive woman): what if I take my laptop and write in the backseat of my husband's Nissan?

Would that be inspiring?? ;-)

Candy, who also likes the passive-aggressive power of deadlines as an excuse.


Keith Raffel said...

Lynn, you've made me wonder how good the writing could be if all the conditions -- the PC, the desk, the personal life, the beverage, the car's backseat -- were ideal.

Mark Terry said...

I've got a white board in my office that I write deadlines on.

When my oldest son came home today I was crossing off an article I'd turned in for one client, and writing a new line for the next project for the same client (I have 3 with open-ended deadlines). He asked me what I was doing.

I told him. Then I pointed at one of the lines, a white paper that was due January 18th, which was not crossed off.

I explained that I had a problem. Essentially that client had just asked for three white papers to be completed by the end of the month. I've completed one, but the other two aren't going terribly well and I've already missed my self-imposed deadline for the second one.

But not to worry. They'll be done by the end of the month. And so will the other article that's due then... and the edited materials for the Journal I edit... and...

As I commented to my guitar teacher last week, being a freelance writer sort of resembles being a college student. Constantly doing homework and writing papers and turning them in on a specific date.

I also pointed out that in 2008 I'm doing the rough equivalent of a PhD and MS dissertation simultaneously. One is a 200+ research business report due in November; the other is a 50+ page research business report due in April.

People might consider putting aside the notion that writing is a glamorous profession.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Glamorous?!! Nothing glamorous about sitting 3 days straight in the same pj's trying to hit a deadline and not taking the time out to even shower.

Oh, did I just say that out loud?

I had hoped everyone thought I was like Barbara Cartland, who sat around in pretty frilly things and dictated her books. :)

Candy Calvert said...

Heh, heh, Sue Ann. Busted.

Of course, the truth is likely that Madam Cartland writes in an outfit a lot like Michael Douglas' ratty bathrorobe in "Wonder Boys".

As do the rest of us? Maybe we should all post photos. ;-)

G.M. Malliet said...

Candy - no way.