On missed (or delayed) deadlines

I’m sure most of you are familiar with this Douglas Adams quote: “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.” I am not that kind of person. Missing deadlines stresses me out, and stresses me out increasingly the farther I get from the deadline. It’s my tendency to cower and hide from the fact that I’ve missed a deadline. If I pretend everything’s okay and just turn an article in, say, a day late, no one will notice, right? And then one day becomes two. Then three. And, uh, I’ll just hide under the bed now, ignore my email, and pretend none of this is happening.

Ignoring a missed deadline (or soon to be missed deadline) is the wrong answer. As an editor myself, I know this, but I still find myself acting this way. I can’t seem to help it.

The right answer is to tell your editor as soon as you know the deadline isn’t going to work out. Because a good editor can work with that if they know about it. They can move something else forward, shove something else back, and play scheduling Jenga until all the pieces fit together again. But if you don’t tell them, they’re twiddling their thumbs expecting something to show up and… nothing.
I have been on that side of the equation and stressed to my own writers to just tell me if they’re going to be late, because I can work with that if I know about it.

But it’s tough. We all have the best intentions to get things done on time, but sometimes that just doesn’t pan out.

Y’all can probably guess where I’m going here. I’ve been trying very hard to finish up Accidental Futures before I go in for surgery on April 19. It would feel good to cross that off my to-do list and not have to think about it for a while. But I finally had to admit it just wasn’t practical to finish it while keeping up with (or trying to get ahead on) everything else. I didn’t want to admit that to myself, much less anyone else, but I finally just couldn’t ignore it.

Could I finish the book before surgery? Maybe. But it would be rushed and sloppy, and not even stellar editing turn bad writing into good writing.

So I’ve pushed back my editing date for both Accidental Futures and the second book in the series (which, yes, I already had a late summer date for). The first is now heading to my editor in early July, and the second in late November. If life and I can cooperate for a while, that should be just fine. When I wake up from surgery, I need to work on getting back into a daily writing habit on AF — it doesn’t matter if it’s 100 words a day or 1000 words a day, getting something done every day is the only way to get a big project like this finished.

In the meantime, I’m struggling to tread water: keeping up with work assignments, getting ahead on work assignments where I can, and juggling doctor’s appointments and other pre-surgery commitments. (This week I’ve already had my will done and finished my taxes. Whee, being an adult!) Next week I’m heading off to Disney World with my mom for her birthday, a pre-deadline distraction that would have been just fine if it weren’t for everything else, but now just adds to the pressure of not having enough time. It will be fun when I get there (except for the fact that the doctor says I can’t ride roller coasters), but it means a shrinking amount of time to get things done before surgery. At least it will be a nice hurrah before I’m stuck in bed recovering for however long.

Writing will fit in to whatever spaces between anything else I can fit it into. It hurt to admit it, but that’s the best I can do right now. But I know the finished product will be better for pushing it back instead of making a mad, sleepless dash to the finish line.

I keep delving into real life here when I want to be talking about fictional life (which is usually a lot more fun). And though I know I said this in my last post, next time I really am going to talk about something more interesting. 🙂 If you have any writing questions for me, let me know and I’ll think on answers.

If you’d like to support my writing, you can always chip in on my Patreon — but, trust me, moral support is great, too. Thanks for reading, everyone, and I’ll see you next time!

In Category: Real Life, Writing
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