Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Monday 19 May 2014

This is How We Deal with Deadlines

I am now officially a fortnight away from a big deadline... Or at least WE are. And when I say a big deadline, obviously, I mean a BIG deadline.

The husband and I are currently collaborating on a novel. We began working on ideas for it almost a year ago, and it went back and forth quite a lot. It’s a pretty big deal for the people commissioning it. There was quite a lot of snagging. It took a long time.

By the time the commissioning process was complete, we were left with quite a small window in which to complete the book. Time was fairly limited.

This happens. It’s a fact of life in this industry, and by ‘this industry’, I mean writing tie-in fiction.

Me and the husband doing a signing at Forbidden Planet
The husband and I work a lot. And he works a lot more than I do. His schedule is always full. Because he writes comic books, which involve series, working in an ongoing fashion, there is always existing stuff in his timetable. He is currently writing comics that require producing weekly and monthly installments, so they’re already in the schedule. Those commitments don’t stop to make way for writing a novel.

So... we are now a fortnight away from a big deadline. There are words to write between now and then, and those words will have to be honed and edited before they can be delivered. This is also a collaboration, so we’ll be handing the baton back and forth. This means that some time will also have to be spent, by both of us, reading each other’s contributions to the project.

There’s work to be done... Lots and lots of work.

The only way to get that work done is to get our arses in our chairs and get on with it. So, that’s what will happen. The husband will sit at his desk, and I’ll sit with my laptop, probably on the adjacent couch in his office, and we’ll put in the hours.

One night, a couple of weeks ago, I posted a tweet about working the nine til two shift. We’d eaten dinner and were settling in for the evening. Someone tweeted back asking why we didn’t work daylight hours. I had to point out that we already had.

Of course, a lot of writers also have day jobs, so it isn’t unusual for them to work evenings. It can be pretty hard work to actually write for fourteen or sixteen hours a day, though. It isn’t terribly unusual for us to do that. We’ll certainly be doing it for the next couple of weeks.

Here’s the thing, though: This is what we do. It’s our job and our pleasure. Yes, it’s sometimes hard, but it’s what we love. The husband has also developed the muscles for it. I suppose I have, too, to some degree. 

A big factor in working long hours is variety. We roughly divide the day into shifts and work on different projects during those shifts. It keeps us fresh and the work interesting. The change of gear or pace also keeps us creative. Everything feeds everything else.

The husband will switch from writing comics to prose. I might switch from writing prose, to editing something he’s written, to doing some research.

We also switch from our own solo projects to collaborative work. The writer’s lot tends to be a lonely one. It’s pretty rare for two writers to live together, and more rare still for two writers to work together. It’s fun, sometimes time-saving and always lovely when two people are equally invested in and knowledgeable about one project.

We invariably fall into bed exhausted at two in the morning. Of course we do. We also sleep damned well.

We sleep well, we eat well, and we refresh ourselves with breaks to watch a movie or take a walk or step out for a long lunch.

Today’s Monday, so, before we sit down for the nine til two, we’ll wander down to our local cocktail bar after dinner and indulge ourselves. We won’t stay too long or drink too much, but we’ll certainly enjoy the ritual.

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