Sound the trumpets! Throw the confetti! I have hit my deadline!
Yes, after months of meandering through rewrites and then a gruelling eight weeks of further editing, I finished this initial draft of The Merchant of Dreams and sent it to my editor – one whole day ahead of schedule! I’m slightly worried I may have set a dangerous precedent here, but honestly, I’m convinced that Parkinson’s Law applies just as much to writers as anyone else. If you don’t take deadlines seriously, you’re not very likely to make them.
Back in October I had serious doubts that I could turn my shambles of a rough draft into anything fit to be shown to my editor. There were huge gaping holes in the narrative, and as per usual I had very little idea of how to get from the middle of the book to the ending that I’d planned. So I set myself targets. I decided I would use NaNoWriMo to plough through the rough-drafting of the remaining scenes, then spend December and January methodically editing it into something readable. So that’s what I did.
I knew I needed about 32 chapters if the book was to be a sensible length, so I gave myself two days per chapter to do the edit, which seemed reasonable. I then marked every chapter deadline (in black) on my Doctor Who calendar by my desk, and recorded every completion date – red for behind schedule, green for on or ahead. The results speak for themselves:
As you can see, my progress was pretty erratic – sometimes it took me a whole week to complete a chapter, other times I’d manage two or even three in a day. In part this was down to the unevenness of the material – some chapters were in a much better state than others – but there was also the small issue of being ill for substantial spells. Nothing serious, just minor viruses, but anything that lowers your concentration is deadly for writers. Overall, though, the target of two days per chapter worked out well.
I’m honestly not sure I could have done it without those implacable black digits daring me to fail, so I’m definitely going to do this again when I start work in earnest on the next book. That Book Three deadline is already looming…