I should be . . .
I should be reading PEGASUS.
Last night on Twitter I posted: MY EDITOR HAS JUST JUST CHOPPED TWO DAYS OFF MY DEADLINE. AAAAAAAUGH. ::frenzied readjustment daily page count:: *
I’m already strung like piano wire. Twangle. Twangle. ** What’s the melting point of piano wire? TWO DAYS? I’VE JUST LOST TWO DAYS?
And some poor well-meaning person, trying to be reassuring, responded to my Twitter cry: it’s only a readthrough! It’s not a rewrite!
Ahem. There speaks someone who hasn’t written many novels. At least not lately. Or at least not the way I write novels. There is no such thing as only a readthrough. It’s true that I’m not doing a complete overhaul—and no, between now and 22nd December, I couldn’t—but there are very few pages of this ‘readthrough’ that don’t have some pencil marks on them, and I’ve written 1500 new words, so far, a sentence here and a paragraph there, which are sitting in a new file, ready to insert into the text before I send it in. Yes, I’m working on actual physical pages. Yes, I finally printed it off. This could be partly because pages are easier to read on a sofa with hellhounds***, but it’s mostly because a story is different on printed pages, and I need to see it that way at least once,† to engage certain parts of my brain that keep insisting that computer aether is evanescent. †† I am also, gods, faeries, spirits and anyone else out there who may be listening, trying to write a more-than-usually-comprehensive cheat sheet of all the names and titles and people and pegasi and countries and laws and customs and architecture and frelling language because I’m going to need it for book two.
Furthermore, as I keep saying, I’m not used to working this fast,††† and I’m certainly NOT used to working to deadlines. Deadlines freak me out. ‡ I’m just hanging on here. Two days! Two arms! Two legs! Two hellhounds! ‡‡ Two days!
I have to go read some more PEGASUS.
* * *
* It is, just by the way, perfectly reasonable that she’s taking those two whole days away from me. The Christmas Eve deadline was my idea; she had originally offered to let me run over into New Year’s if I had to, although I could see various practical-realities publishing people turning blue even from three thousand miles away. But having it drag on over the holidays reminds me of those horrible term finals in college that you have to come back to—or big your-grade-stops-here papers that are due after the holidays. In the first place who wants the entire Regiment of Damocles hanging over your head by a thread^ when the rest of the western world is drinking eggnog^^ and telling bad reindeer jokes^^^ and in the second place it’s very hard to maintain intellectual momentum when you’re surrounded by people drinking eggnog~ and telling bad Santa Claus jokes.~~ So I said I’d get it in on Christmas Eve. Oh good, said my editor, we even have a copyeditor who will work over Christmas.~~~
But publishing houses close before Christmas Eve. To make any gain out of my extreme gallantry in getting PEGASUS in before Christmas, it has to come in enough before Christmas to have time to bump it on to Stage Two. Which means the 22nd. I even kind of had it in the back of my mind that something like this was going to happen. But it was way far back in the back of my mind. Way far.
^ An interesting image. Hey, it’s late+ and I should be reading PEGASUS.
+ So what else is new
^^ I know, I know, eggnog is a minority thing. Back in the days when I could drink heavy cream, with or without lashings of raw egg, sugar, and rum, I loved eggnog. From where I sit now it’s like remembering a previous life when I had . . . four legs, wings, and a princess.
^^^ Why does Santa’s sleigh fly?&
~ Or cherry Kool-Aid, pine beer, white lightning or whatever gets you through the festive season
~~ What do you call people who hate Santa Claus?&&
~~~ I hope she gets combat pay. I also hope she’s Hindu, or Shinto, or someone who isn’t too tied to festivals around the winter solstice.
** And I badly need tuning.
*** In spite of pawprint and head-in-lap problems, and the sheer unwieldiness of almost 400 sheets of paper. Yesterday Chaos did a backbend over my stack of manuscript—the stack I was reading you understand—with his feet braced against the back of the sofa. Unfortunately getting the camera out of my hip pocket so that Peter could take a picture disturbed him so sadly this moment went unchronicled.
† Both my editor(s) and Merrilee, all of whom, I admit, are nearly as old as I am, print out a certain amount of the stuff they read. It may just be having been born too soon and learnt to love stories in a different world. But pages are different.
†† It could also be that I Am Trapped in a Vicious Circle of Print Out Hell. I always want to read page proofs of any new editions of my books, which means . . . a whole lot of paper. Page proofs come printed only on one side, like ordinary typescript, although they’re already ‘set’ so the page you’re looking it is the page as it’ll look in the book, except it’ll be printed on both sides. You don’t send the proofs back, only your corrections. So there you are, with another x hundred pages of blank second sides. There’s a limit to how many shredded page proofs you want to put in the compost heap.
††† I know. Lots of authors turn out a good book every year^ and barely turn a hair or miss a social engagement, let alone make remarks about the melting point of piano wire. I am not any of them.
^ Lots more large two-legged bacilli turn out a book-shaped piece of drivel and rubbish every year, but we’re not talking about them.
‡ Remind me not to buy any more houses. This all started with signing that contract for 1,000,000,000 books to scratch together enough money up front to buy Third House.
‡‡ One husband
* * *
& Because it’s pulled by flying reindeer, stupid!
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