Sunday, 18 January 2015

The hardest deadline


When I returned from France in mid-September, I had a new book deal and a deadline. I thought it was going to be a bit tight, but there were exciting reasons why I wasn't going to argue. I would just put my head down and concentrate all my energies on writing, and I was sure that by the end of January, I would have a good first draft.

Sadly, real life intervened. I'd only been back a day when the first of several bombshells hit, and by the end of September I knew that looking after my mother was going to have to take precedence over writing. When she was in hospital, I got up early and wrote in the mornings before visiting time; when she came home for the end, I took my notes to work when she slept but usually failed to write a word.

January, new grit, I thought. I managed a week's work, still feeling terribly sad, but with time to concentrate, at least . My mother's memorial service was on January 8th. I managed to get to my feet to deliver a tribute I had written, but that very evening I came down with 'flu. Just reaction, I suppose. Last week I ploughed on with aching head and racking cough.

I put this out here not to elicit sympathy, though I know the loyal readers of this blog will be quick to offer it, both above and below the public wire, and they know how grateful I am. Actually, this is a post about writing. Sometimes it's not easy. I'm sure editors and agents would be understanding if I missed my deadline. But I won't do that because I pride myself not only in writing well enough to be published and paid for it, but on what that implies: being professional about my work.

I've written before about not having much truck with writer's block - I genuinely believe it's not much more than self-indulgence, an excuse to talk about writing without doing any. Of course there are days when I sit down at my desk with my head too full of other thoughts to find the right words for a story, or in a panic that I've literally lost the plot. But the mark of a professional is that you open the manuscript, take some deep breaths and go in. Then stick at it until the words come.

I'll let you know the state of play at the end of the month.
 

10 comments:

Nadege said...

I am so sorry for you loss Deborah! Life does intervene often to remind us to take each step at a time. I am looking forward to your next book.

carole hoffman said...

Deborah - I am so sorry about your mother. Mine has been gone seven years now, and I still reach for the phone to call her...I cannot wait to read your next book, but as I know it will be an immense pleasure to do so, I am patient. I hope your editors will be so as well. Good luck.

Potomac, Maryland
USA

litlove said...

You've really been through the mill, dear Deborah, but I have every faith in your professional skills. I have a disquieting theory that great books arise out of dreadful crises. But whatever you write, I am sure it will be wonderful.

Robbyn Coulon said...

Just a note to say, I enjoy reading your blog, your thoughts, your feelings. Just remember to take time for yourself. A quote I just saved for a paper craft I'm working on...
Take time to do what makes your soul happy.

Good luck and happy Sunday.
~Robbyn

Libby said...

The sadness certainly does not go away, but somehow it recedes for longer moments as time goes on. I think of my Mother every day, but now it's usually about some amusing incident, or things she would say to me when I was very little and that now I realize my daughter will probably have the same feelings. It's all rather reassuring, really. In a way, time stands still…and that's sort of nice!

Yvonne Osborne said...

And the words will come.

And I'm sure you know how lucky you are to have a deadline, but just saying....I'd love to have one imposed on me rather than the ones I impose upon myself.

Gill Edwards said...

I am so sorry for all you've been through but you must take care of yourself now. There is no lack of professionalism in taking things easy for a while but if writing helps you through this then thats what you must do.
Sending you my good wishes that life will be kinder to you in 2015
Gill x

Patricia said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, Deborah. Grief is powerful and draining and so very personal. Good luck with meeting your deadline, as I am certain you will. That reserve of strength will kick in! I share your thoughts on writer's block, for what it's worth :-)

Deborah Lawrenson said...

Thank you all for your kindness and thoughtful comments. Nadege, Robbyn and Carole - I don't know whether you have blogs for me to leave more personal thanks, but if you do, there isn't a link, so please accept my thanks here.

Marcheline said...

With you all the way, and looking forward to your triumphal emergence from the long, dark tunnel!

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