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When the other shoe bonks you on the head

April 7th, 2008 7 comments

This post is inspired by Skipp’s post of April 5th, in which he confesses to a deadline crunch and offers an assignment. That post struck a chord with me, because I’m on a bit of a deadline crunch myself.

See, my new novel was due April 15th.

I say “was,” because I figured out several months ago that that wasn’t going to happen, and asked my agent to ask my editor if we could push the deadline back somewhat, because I was having no luck at all getting my head around the dratted thing. I knew even then that I was floundering, and that this was going to be a long, hard slog.

I had no idea how hard.

I have been struggling with this draft since February 29th. I’ve written about 62,000 words. I have been fighting this book like a pit of pythons. Hammering on it. Writing it in spite of itself.

And I’ve realized in the past week that I’m not sure I’m going to be able to use any of them.

This is the sort of thing that happens, sometimes. You take a wrong turn, or you’re not sure if you’ve taken a wrong turn, but what you are suddenly sure of is that you don’t know where you are going. Sometimes, you can blunder on for a while and eventually come to something you recognize–a mile marker, a mountain on the horizon, the turnoff for Schenectady. Pick up one of those things, and you can bushwhack your way home, and you might find some fascinating synchronicities along the way.

But sometimes you drive a while further, and you realize that you can’t get there from here. And possibly, you’re not even sure where there is anymore.

When that happens, there’s only one solution.

You have to pull over and fish out a map, and spend a little time staring at it until you figure out where you are.

The problem is that when this happens with a book… there isn’t any map.

I’m asking for another extension.

A long one.

Even though I find it frustrating and humiliating to do so. Because I’m going to have to explore, you see, and draw a map. And then once I have the map drawn, I’m going to have to figure out if there’s any way to that shining city I can just see across the desert there, hovering like a mirage.

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