Thursday, October 09, 2008

Oh, the Pressure!

By Nichole Giles

For some reason, it seems like the forces of the universe are working together to force humanity into teaching themselves to sleep less and work more. Life just goes in so many different directions every day, and before we know it, time has slipped through our fingers and become bits and pieces of the past.

I’m one of these people from whom the universe has decided to squeeze time. There are never enough hours in a day, enough days in a week, or enough weeks in a month. But, such is the life of a writer.

Luckily, we have a unique ability to live in a time other than our own when we write. We can even live in another world if we want, as long as we remember that there is a real world outside our computer. It’s like leading a double life. Or a triple life. Or more, depending on how many projects you’re working on at once. Personally, I’ve discovered that more than one is overwhelming. You start to mix plots and characters and voice, and…it’s a really tough thing to do.

I’ve been in a mad rush to finish this book of mine. Yes, okay. It’s the same one I’ve been working on for months—still not right. Not finished. Not complete. But it gets closer every day. And part of the reason it isn’t finished is because the universe is bearing down on me, throwing everything at me it can think of to keep me from writing the last word of the last chapter. But this week, I have a solid deadline. I will have this draft (minus a few minor plot corrections I’ll have to fix in the middle) finished by Saturday morning. My deadline is solid because I won’t have a computer or any Internet access for over a week, and so…

So, I’ll have it done. Except.

Have you ever experienced that odd kind of blockage caused by an absolute deadline? I mean I can do blogs and articles with very little pressure, usually. And I always make my deadlines. But this one is killing me. Oh the pressure! But let me tell you a secret. Every time I work past the pressure and into the heart of the story, it comes out brilliantly. If I can forget about the world outside my computer for a while, my characters will do all the work, and all I have to do is watch my fingers move. They know how this story ends, and every little detail that winds it up. So, really, the pressure is more on them than me.

All I have to do is close my eyes and dive in, forget about carpools and dinner plans and rehearsals and soccer games. Forget about all the deadlines and the weeds in my flowerbeds that are almost as tall as my knees. And homework and work and college and crazy people who waste your time and…laundry. Yes, piles of laundry and bathrooms that need to be scrubbed, sinks full of dishes and floors that should be vacuumed. All the things that distract me from my ultimate goal. To finish the darn manuscript!

To write or not to write? That is the question. The answer? Well, according to one of Keith Fisher’s recent book choices, the answer to the meaning-of-life question is forty-two. I wonder if that means the answer to my problem is a number? Yes, that’s a good possibility. Tonight, maybe I’ll try writing at three a.m.

Hey, it can’t hurt. I have a deadline to make!


Pink Ink said...

Deadlines have been good for my productivity. I finished a manuscript for a contest in June, and that was good. But it has not been good for my family or my sanity. A little balance would be nice, wouldn't it?

I still think, though, without some sort of a deadline, I'd still putz around with an ms.

Good luck with your ms. You can do it!!

Nichole Giles said...

Thanks, Pink! I think balance is the key. Part of the reason I haven't finished my manuscript is because I've been struggling to find that balance between family, sanity, and writing. I know it exists, which is why I'm trying so hard to find it.

I'll let you know if I ever do! Thanks for commenting.


Keith Fisher said...

Yep, forty-two. of course for double the effect the answer has to be eighty-four. 3 am works good too. I know thats when I get most of my day job work done. writing tends to take a back sleep after that. good luck this weekend.

Connie Hall said...

When you write about forgetting all those things while we write, it sounds so easy. Deadlines is what makes us all work harder. I've always admired you because once you set your mind to do something you do it. Go girl. Have a great vacation.

Nichole Giles said...

Thanks Connie and Keith!

I mostly made the deadline. If I stay up for another two hours, I could finish the last five or six pages and wrap this thing up. I don't know if I will though, I have to be up at 6:00 am.

I finished the most important parts, and that's what really matters. Technically, I have an ending, even though I've decided I need to change it a bit.

Woo hoo! See you next week.