Thought of the Week: Deadlines

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I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.

—Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt

There’s an interesting, and sometimes forgotten, aspect to self-publishing, and it’s this: nobody but you puts a deadline on your work. I started writing The Redemption of Erâth in November of 2011 as part of NaNoWriMo. I started the first novel, Consolation, in January of 2012. Yet despite finishing the first draft within four months, the book didn’t see publication for over two years.

Why such a delay? And more importantly, was it necessary? The answer is complicated, but largely has to do with my own laziness and lack of impetus. Yes, the first draft was finished in April of 2012. But I didn’t look at it again for almost six months. Then I slowly—slowly—began the editing process, without really knowing anything about what I was doing. By the summer of 2013 I had decided to publish through iUniverse (ultimately, I believe, a mistake), but then spent even more time revisiting the work based on their feedback. I had the story professionally edited later that year. Then I sat on it again for a further six months, before finally pulling the trigger on getting the damn thing into circulation. Publication date? July, 2014.

I have, for the first time ever, imposed a deadline on myself.

Some of the delay was needed to rework the story, and yes, it was necessary. The story is better for it. But a huge part of it was essentially me just letting things slide, not replying to emails, and twiddling my thumbs. Had I had a publication deadline, the book would likely have been released almost a year earlier.

The same thing has started to happen with the second book, Exile. I started writing the draft of that in April of 2013; here it is September two years later, and the book is—again—not published. But this time, there’s a difference. I know when I’m releasing it.

This is important: I have, for the first time ever, imposed a deadline on myself. Prior to last month, I would have said, “it’ll be done when it’s done.” But this isn’t a helpful frame of mind to be in. After all, although it’s quite a relief to not have someone constantly asking if it’s done yet, it ends up being just as stressful wondering if your book will ever see the light of day.

Of course, having a deadline means I can’t sit back and relax. Oh, no. If I truly want to have Exile released in time for Christmas, I’m going to have to put in a ton of hard work over the next few months. In addition, I’ve tasked myself with releasing the History of Erâth in October, and writing a second companion book, Legends and Myths of Erâth, in November. That means that, truthfully, I’ll only have the month of October to revisit Exile and make sure it’s as good as it possibly can be.

The good news is that, for the moment, my mental illnesses seem to have receded slightly; I have the motivation, and the energy, to work at it. I can’t say if that will last, and these deadlines may indeed whoosh past. For now, though, I’d better get back to editing the History of Erâth; it’s due out in a month.

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