Shhhh! A secret…

So this is how my dear friend J began our conversation the other day.

“Okay, now my mom told me not to tell you, but–”

Egad!  That is a scary start.  I sat ramrod stiff and waiting for the scoop.  A little part of me wanted to squeak, “well, if she didn’t want you to…maybe you shouldn’t?” but most of me was already paralyzed with fear.

So since I was already in squeak mode, I did.  “What? What? Tell me!”

(Which you will note was not my original intention.)

“She wants to know if you’re going to finish this book before she dies.”

Ah.  “I trust she is in good health?” I ask.

“Just step on it,” J answers.  (I paraphrase.  Well, perhaps she was loads kinder and more understanding, and perhaps she also stressed that she and her mom are merely anticipatory and supportive.  But, hey, as the writer *cough*, I do get to fictionalize.  Right?)

Now, my dear friend J’s mom–who is dear in her own right, and a right comedienne and all-round smart and dear sort–is not the first person in recent days to basically wonder when I’m going to finish this book.

I think the time has come to set a deadline on myself.  At least for the completed first draft.  I’ve gotten a bit lazy; many evenings I have been reading rather than writing or taking notes.  I’ve gotten to the point where I have so many notes in my journal that aren’t yet in the book that just transferring the sketches/notes is a serious bigtime job.  And moreover, you know, the book’s long…not for a book, per se, but in comparison with anything else I’ve ever written before (I think my thesis was 60 pages, and that was over a decade ago) and I’m realizing how much editing will be in store once I finish the story.

My point is–there’s a lot of work left and a lot of imagination and creation before I finish my first draft.  And my approach has been “slow and steady” but I’m thinking it’s time to push. 

That’s my plan.  Shall I add a timeline?  A challenge to self? 

Very well.  I shall finish this draft —  wow, you don’t know this but I just took about 5 minutes of angst-filled staring and backward math — by December 15.

I know, I know!  I should say “this summer.”  I should.  How about I am to finish the draft by the end of summer, but we all realize I am lying through my teeth, which are, by the way, dropping out in fear.

No, no–second thoughts.  I should pick a meaningful date.  Hm. 

Deadline Goal shall be August 12, a date which makes me think of lions and basketball and growing up.

Deadline No-Matter-What shall be December 27, which of course means that on my birthday I will be done and can sleep the sleep of the damned.  I mean the exhausted.  Or I can be like the little piggy and scream all the way home.

🙂  I think I’ve terrified myself to shreds.  I have to go, friends and cohorts.  I have a book to write. 


Ladies and Gents, the place I almost died.

Let's just say this photo was not taken on one of my smarter days.

Despite being taken on the 100% scariest day of my life (July 4, 2008, in case you’re wondering), this shot reminds me that what doesn’t kill me is photographed and perched atop my armoire to remind me how great life is.

Err, no.  What doesn’t kill me is, well, fortunate for that reason, at the very least.   🙂

Was it Eleanor Roosevelt who said you should do one thing that scares you each day?  Well, count me among the terrified.  Gotta dash, grab little piggy and go write! 🙂


About sputnitsa

Born in the US, I grew up in Africa and the West Indies, and returned stateside in my teens. After a decade in international development, democracy work, and inclusivity training for domestic NGOs, I joined Peace Corps, and after a year, experienced my first Russian invasion. I followed that up by volunteering with refugees and youth, and after some vacation time climbing minarets and mountains, I returned to New York City, where today I work on social justice with college students, produce short films, and write.
This entry was posted in challenges, discipline, endless first drafts, fiction, finding your own way, first drafts, interminable first drafts, Kazbegi, Mount Kazbegi, Mount Kazbek, never ending story, plan b, work, writing, writing update and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Shhhh! A secret…

  1. ralfast says:

    Looks like the setting of the final scene of my second WIP. Of course it is set in Georgia.

  2. sputnitsa says:

    Wait–what–Georgia the country??? Wild! Where in Georgia? Or is it Georgia the state? (You are talking about the photo, right?)

  3. ralfast says:

    The country. On a valley in the north although I can’t recall what town or city was near it (would have to check my notes).

    • sputnitsa says:

      Hm 🙂 Well, this photo is from northern Georgia, in the Greater Caucasus. Though it’s not a valley.

      You’re not speaking of the Pankisi Gorge, are you?

  4. ralfast says:

    Again, could be, to be honest I picked it using Google Earth, so while the place is real, it’s hard to tell one curve of the Earth from another. Suffice to say it involves demons, magic, and a Russian missile (conventional, not nuclear) strike. 😉

  5. LOL, I can relate to this post — the moveable finish line. As you get closer, though, the momentum will build. Hope you find your groove and get this sucker done.

  6. The question every writer dreads: “Is your book almost done yet?” Such inquiries should be punishable by having to translate very long German sentences with subclauses. Or forced to write a novel of their own and see how quickly they can finish! 😉

    Good luck with your goals, Sputsie. You know I’ll be right behind you, cheering you on. 🙂

    • sputnitsa says:

      🙂 Subclaused German sentences? — That is great punishment INDEED! I guess you’re not yet on board with the German disinclination toward capital punishment… 🙂 🙂

      But yes, I do believe a first novel (at the least) should be given wide berth. Writing is one job one really does learn “on the job,” but it’s not cookie-cutter.

      That said, we all know how many people talk about writing something someday and never do. Maybe all of us who write our first books know that at least some percentage of people are wondering, or even assuming, that we fall into that majority.

      Deadlines are almost a way of saying to everyone, including ourselves, that we’re serious. Or that we have faith and intention..

      As for my two deadlines–I strongly suspect mine are as false as any words suggesting Russian is not the hawtest language eva! I shall keep plugging on, keep focusing and putting my nose to the bat (or whatever the expression is??) and we’ll see where August and December find me. 🙂

  7. Beth says:

    Best of luck! You can do it–having a deadline really helps. 🙂

    • sputnitsa says:

      Heh. Of course I then had a conversation with someone and realized it’s about how good the work is, not how much time you take to make it so. I consider all the deadlines, um, incorrect, now 😉 🙂 But thank you for the support!!! 🙂

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