Have you ever taken on a project or a job or a task that you knew from the get-go was going to be way too much work and take way too much time?
No, I’m not talking about being a conference coordinator, although that definitely falls into the category.
A few months back, my friend Nancy Martin proposed a summer project for six local writers. A critique boot camp. Four measly weeks, mid July to early August, during which we each pledged to submit 25 to 50 pages each week and give thorough, written critiques of the other five members’ submissions. In theory, that’s potentially 250 pages to read and comment on, in addition to our own writing.
I jumped on it very much the same way I jumped on the conference coordinator gig four years ago. These things always sound so far in the future that I’m certain I’ll have all sorts of time by then.
It’s a form of insanity. I’m convinced of it.
Also, in my defense, at the time we were planning this, I was going to run a completed manuscript through it…one that I had ready to start submitting.
Then, one week before our first submission deadline, I received one of my older manuscripts back from an agent I’ve been working with. It came with two pages of editorial notes and lots of comments in the margins. In other words: a lot of revision work to do.
I considered taking the easy way out. Stick to Plan A and use the polished manuscript for the boot camp. But I didn’t want to put off revising the one that had sparked an agent’s interest, especially since she’s put an awful lot of time, thought and effort into it. Plus, I’d be a fool to skip the chance to receive feedback on it from these five other writers, all of whom I respect immensely. It would be like tackling a complete home renovation alone when the THIS OLD HOUSE team was ready and willing to assist.
So I’ve been in panic-stricken revision mode for the last several weeks. I’ve turned down lunch invitations, put off doctor’s appointments… Heck, I even passed up a lucrative paying job (not a writing one) in order to focus on rewriting and revising This Old Manuscript.
We had our first meeting this past Sunday. The feedback was invaluable, as I knew it would be. But it also showed me that I need to revise my revisions. Again. How many times have I rewritten Chapter Two over the years? I’ve lost count.
Our next submission deadline is TOMORROW. Will I have at least 25 pages?
I keep thinking of Jonathan Maberry, who completed a manuscript DURING the Pennwriters Conference this year. In the middle of the bar. Between workshops and keynote speeches. All to meet his deadline the day after the conference ended.
So, YES. Between writing blogs, teaching yoga, and giving a mini-workshop for a Pennwriters meeting. I will have at least 25 pages by tomorrow.
Feel free to demand to know my progress as the day wears on. But don’t be surprised if I disappear for great stretches of time.