I’ve got to move fast!
No! I’ve got to move faster than that.
It doesn’t happen to me often, but on this occasion, due to circumstances beyond my control, and I’ll come back to that, my latest deadline is now clearly visible in the professional equivalent of my rearview mirror.
Believe it or not, there are things that can be done about this.
Neil Gaiman says that if you want to be a professional writer it’s a good idea to be two of three things at all times. Those three things are talented, charming and punctual. My contention is that no one can rely on being talented, and that charming is in the eye of the beholder, so that all anyone can really rely on is punctuality.
Now, here I am breaking my one and only cardinal rule. I am late. I hang my head in shame, but not for long, obviously, because there’s no time to waste, and I apologise.
Here’s what to do if you’re late.
- Anticipate being late. Don’t leave it until deadline day to admit that you’re late and tell your publisher at that point. Tell him in advance of your lateness that you expect to be late, and, if at all possible, by how much you expect to run late.
- Don’t panic. This will not help, but it will eat time.
- Keep working. Stay focused. Don’t take shortcuts. Don’t alter your working practices.
- Sit your arse in your chair and write.
I claimed above that my current project is late ‘due to circumstances beyond my control’. The fact is that all sorts of things have happened in the last several months that have contributed to my writing slowing down. All sorts of things have also happened in the unfolding of this particular project that caused it not to run as smoothly as I might have hoped. I do not, however, believe that any of that was outside of my control if I had just had the balls and the foresight to take bloody control, by force if necessary.
So, on top of being late, I’m also a bit pissed off with myself. I could have seen some of this shit coming, and I didn’t, and I could have taken better control of certain circumstances, and I didn’t, and I could blame all sorts of things and people, but it’d be pointless.
As the writer of this project, I’m the one who’s answerable for delivery of the manuscript, and I didn’t deliver on the due date. I’ve got to take responsibility for that. The buck stops here.
Right, that’s me well and truly chastised. I’m off to try to get this book finished so that I can at least still see the deadline in my rearview mirror by the time I hand it over to the editor. If it disappears over the horizon, I’m well and truly in the shit, and I’m determined not to let that happen.
I’ll see you guys on the other side.