The Great Blow-Off-Your-Deadline Award
**awarded with bitter grimaces and squeezed buttocks to those writers who fail to read the fine print and fulfill their commitments**
For the past few weeks, I’ve been working toward a May 30 deadline in an attempt to finish a 70,000 word novelization. My publishers are trying to coordinate the on-shelf date with the film’s in-theaters date. With four weeks left to go and 26K words under my belt, I thought I was doing swimmingly–which, I guess, means I was keeping my head above water.
Then, this morning, I received an e-mail from my editor. Let me first say that my editor has been fantastic. She’s professional when necessary, encouraging at all times, and someone I consider a friend. In her usual gracious manner, she asked how my manuscript was coming along since she hadn’t heard from me yet.
It was due yesterday, the first of May, she informed me.
In my 41 years, I’ve enjoyed great health, but I thought I was going to have a heart attack. And if that didn’t do me in, I’d put an end to things myself. How could I have been so stupid? I checked my calendars, my web site, my day planner…In all of them, I’d put May 30 as the deadline. I went through my old e-mails with my editor, pulled out my contract from the heavy box on the top shelf in my closet…They all showed May 1.
I guess it’s part of life. We all make mistakes. We get wrong ideas stuck in our heads that we can’t shake. The consequences of such things can vary from minor to drastic.
After a few panicky e-mails to my editor, involving self-loathing and bent-knee apologies, I worked out a compromise with her that should keep us close to our intended release date. Will I sleep much? Probably not. Will the quality of the story suffer? I can’t help but think it will, though I’m hoping for the best. Will I show a little more grace the next time my daughters tell me they thought their homework was due next week not tomorrow? I will certainly try.
And now, in the spirit of the moment, I’d like to give my award acceptance speech:
I hate to brag, I really do
Since the award I’ve been given
Is nothing new
I’ve received it before
Without even trying
Deadlines are due
And I’m the one dying.