A Writing Entry – The Deadline Demon

Wow, so it’s almost September and the Deadline Demon is upon me.  My goal is to have my third installment of “Nevermore and the Ravens” finished, edited, and the cover art ready so I can submit it for publication at the beginning of October.  It takes Smashwords about two weeks to fully process and distribute a novel, so it should be ready for a Halloween release, which has always been my goal.  But I’m not doing very well in meeting this deadline, I’m afraid.  So why not just move the deadline?

Well, I do hope one day to be able to make a living as a published author.  Granted, I may be delusional.  I’m okay with that.  But if my dreams come true, I will have to operate on a deadline.  I operate on deadlines for my day job.  Deadlines are good for motivation (if they are reasonable) and I feel I should discipline myself to working on a writing deadline even if there’s no external force dictating that deadline.  I also have a deadline of posting to this blog on Wednesdays and Saturdays.  Rather unfortunately, that’s a deadline I too often miss, and I apologize for that, patient readers.  Constraints, such as deadlines, aren’t always bad.  Sometimes too much freedom is the enemy, especially for me and my fevered hamster brain.  I might leap from topic to topic, to story to story, without a plan for finishing anything.  Hence, why I have give myself the deadline.

Once upon a time, I did write on a deadline, and I won’t say it wasn’t occasionally frustrating.  In fact, I was under three constraints.  I was contracted to produce a flash fiction story for the now defunct Pagan Edge e-zine.  I had word count limit, I had a theme which my story had to follow, and I had a due date each month to submit the story or risk missing my column appearing in the e-zine (and as I was using it to advertise my novels, I certainly didn’t want to miss that opportunity).  I preferred the editor to give me a list of topics for three to six months in advance.  That way, I had a little more freedom to try to write on a topic that interested me, and had the luxury of time to mull over topics that didn’t immediately catch my attention.  I also had more time to edit myself, which is something that I’m occasionally bad at.  But sometimes the editor didn’t provide the topics in advance, so I had only a couple of weeks to write a story.  Even with a word limit of 600, that’s not an easy task.  My Muse is fickle, and I wasn’t always inspired by the topic.  I admit, I missed my deadlines by a day or two.  I simply couldn’t get the words on the page.  I’ll also admit I wasn’t always happy with what I produced.  While I know that not everything I write will be great, I always aim for good.  Sometimes I got what I would judge as merely adequate.  I do like having some room to work.  Part of the time constraint was that if I wrote a story, I seldom had time to decide if it was what I really wanted to submit, or if I thought it really expressed the theme.  I was trapped into submitting that story because it was all I had.  I made that story the best I could, but sometimes I felt it should have been better.  I would have liked more time to create a better story than “serviceable.”  But such is the life of a professional, as I told myself.

So where does this leave the latest installment of “Nevermore and the Ravens?”  Not in the greatest shape, quite honestly.  I still need three stories to make the full thirteen.  I have three stories that are not finished, but I don’t have the cushion of a fourth one to work on if it turns out I don’t care much for the three remaining.  One is a story I started almost first thing for this collection and I still haven’t finished it, so that probably doesn’t bode too well.  I have maybe half the songs done, if I’m optimistic about it, and none of the connecting dialogue.  I thought I would wait until all the stories were done and organized before I did that part of it, which I think makes sense and will be overall better but does put more pressure on me to get this done.  I have an idea for the cover but I still have to actually draw it, and I would like a chance to make a few revisions instead of just slapping something on the cover and going.  This is indeed the danger of the Deadline Demon – getting anything out to get it out instead of getting out the best.

On the other hand, if I really want to make it as a professional published author, I need to make sure my work is out there.  In this sense I sacrifice some quality for publicity.  However, I know I’m hardly the first artist nor will I be the last to just get that final chapter done or get that final song done or paint the final picture to complete the gallery.  Obscure perfection is not the goal.  Many artists toil in obscurity for the sake of their art.  I really hate not being able to put my best out, but as I learned from Pagan Edge, serviceable is better than nothing at all.

Still, for all that, I am hoping for a bout of frantic inspiration to finish this collection on a high note.


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S. J. Drew is an aspiring writer who finally entered the blogosphere to shamelessly promote that writing (as evidenced by the title of the blog). Whether or not this works remains to be seen, but S. J. hopes you are at least entertained. And if you're actually reading this, that's probably a good sign.

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