Cheeseburger Gothic

Deadline Psyche

Posted January 24 into Writing by John Birmingham

I’ve been on deadline for a couple of weeks now, hammering away at the keys, croaking into the dictation rig, all aimed at finishing THE SHATTERED SKIES, the second book in the Cruel Stars series, before I get on a flight to Rome on Monday.

No way am I finishing that book.

But that’s okay. I knew there was no chance I would ever finish it in time, because...

NARRATOR VOICE: The deadline was coming from inside his head!

Cue Wilhelm Scream.

The deadline wasn’t set by my publishers. I did it to myself to avoid coming back from Europe in mid Feb with a truly impossible job to do. So for the last three weeks I’ve been cranking on 4000 words a day, or trying to, simply to get into a position where I could finish the manuscript at a more leisurely 2000 words a day when I get home.

Mission accomplished. I should have about 75-80K words in the bank by Monday.

One thing I am gonna try while I'm away is writing a couple of pars, here and there, that aren't driving the plot - they're just nice writing. I had a look through my story plan, plucked out a couple of scenes that are mostly descriptive, and opened some documents in Bear, the rather nifty little writing app I have on my iPhone for stuff like this. Maybe I'll never open those documents again. But hopefully I will as an alternative to, say, mindlessly browsing a Twitter feed if I find myself with ten minutes to wait for a train, or an hour or two on that train.

Example. I have to describe a ring world called Cupertino.

It's a megastructure, a Culture Orbital, as designed by Apple, or what Apple becomes given 700 years. At the moment I have no idea what it's like other than it's very big and very nice. Rather than breaking flow on the action driven plot to spend an hour or so describing this thing, I'm just going to play with the idea like a prose poem over the next three weeks and see what I have at the end of it.

The idea is I can then just cut and paste the words into the manuscript when the time comes.

9 Responses to ‘Deadline Psyche’

Barnesm would have you know...

Posted January 24
That sounds like a delightful idea.
I admit my first thought was "why is the orbital named after a San Francisco fish stew?", and realised that's Cioppino. Duck Duck Go pointed out that Cupertino is a neighborhood in California.

Respond to this comment

Dave W swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 24
I used to do this kind of thing when I was working on my M.A., busy with work, on a real deadline for an essay. For the side points on the essay I'd use a bit of micro-spare time and pencil down whatever it was. I found it useful, even if I didn't use it, for getting those side points out of my head. Damn things could take up too much space in there.

she_jedi asserts...

Posted January 24
I'm intrigued by your strategy around side points. The number of times I've gone down a side point rabbit hole in an essay for uni and then had to backtrack out of it... I will try this on the next one and see if it helps keep this stuff out of my head :)

Dave W asserts...

Posted January 24
Gulp- Results may vary!

she_jedi would have you know...

Posted January 24
I certainly won't hold you responsible for my application of your technique and the results that follow!

Respond to this thread

Matthew F. asserts...

Posted January 24
I'd be interested in a little review of Bear if you have a few minutes and a mind to do it. I took a quick look at it but it's hard to get a sense of what it's like to use. There's a subscription mentioned - did you get that or is it available as a one-and-done purchase?

John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted January 24
I bought it outright, but I’ll check the sub model and write a quickie review. I do like it as a note taker.

Respond to this thread

Vovchara reckons...

Posted January 26
I have rather of topic question.
Why the hell are you traveling to Europe in February? Saying as someone who just spend freezing up my arse outside.

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted January 27
I like winter food.

Respond to this thread

Respond to 'Deadline Psyche'

Follow along with RSS