Deadlines and Cakes

There’s a certain kind of vindication from signing a three book deal. Especially when it comes from someone like Gollancz, who are in many ways of the leading publishers of science-fiction and fantasy. If they believe my book is good enough to sit on their shelf alongside titles by Philip K. Dick, William Gibson, Joe Abercrombie and Terry Pratchett, then, really, who I am to say otherwise?

The publishing climate being what it is, any book that gets picked up by a major publisher has been to be polished until it shines, and then polished some more. It takes effort, time, concentration, and discipline. And once you’ve signed up for a trilogy, you sort of have to do it again. And again. And suddenly, writing’s not quite as carefree and enjoyable as it once might have been.

I wrote STORMBLOOD in just over six months. It wasn’t all rainbows, but it was fun. Head down to my favourite writing spot at the beach with my laptop, slam out 3000-4000 words a session, spending half a dozen leisurely hours building my world. Carefree as eating another slice of cake. The only deadlines were my own, and the only editor was my internal one. Now, with actual money and contracts involved, things aren’t quiet as easy. Less so when, from today, this book that I’m writing is due to be published in less than 18 months. The first draft isn’t even halfway done, and the deadline’s already looming.

Dead. Line. Even the name sounds a wee bit ominous.

Fact of the matter is: you’ve got to treat it like a job, because it is. And you’ve got to be disciplined and putting in the hours. Which I can do (he said, grumbling). It’s finding the careful balance between pleasure and pain, work and leisure, craft and chore, that’s the problem. And then there’s the pressure. An enormous amount of pressure to get it right. It’s less easy to hit your daily wordcount when a little voice in the back of your head’s chattering away that every character, plot twist, character arc, name, location, set-piece, description, hell, every word you’re writing is going to be ingrained into the narrative forever (nevermind that, y’know, you can always edit straight after) and you’d better get it right.

So. Yeah. It’s not easy. But that’s what I signed up for, and I’m going to see it through. In a year’s time, when Book 2 is complete, if I’m not touting grey hair, ink-stained fingertips and gazing into the horizon with a glazed over expression, you can assume it went well.




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