You know the feeling when you’re just getting to the top of the roller coaster? Your stomach is tight, you inhale slightly, your limbs start to tingle in anticipation as you climb the hill and then you crest it and go screaming toward the bottom. I don’t know about you, but for an instant during that descent I always think I’m going to die. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve been on that ride, I’ve no doubt that this time the car will go off the track and fly into the parking lot where it will pulverize a few cars and probably kill a family of seven who just scored on a great parking spot. I can remind myself how many times I’ve survived, but I’ll still have that moment of full-on panic where I remember that I don’t have a will and no one in my household knows how to change the vacuum bags but me.
My recent writing deadlines have been kind of like that. I’m putting out two books a year which is awesome and terrifying all at the same time. The series is doing well, which is what I’ve always dreamed of, but that increases the pressure to keep the books unique, to not recycle storylines and to not do anything that will delay the timeline my publisher works hard to maintain. The last six weeks before each deadline has become that elongated moment of certain death. Things like “Why did I think I would survive this one? And “Last time I did this was the last time it was going to work” steam roll my confidence and a neon sign that flashes “failing” over and over again takes permanent residence in my head. Logically, I can look at the situation and say that I have pulled this off before, that everything will be okay. That each of the prior deadlines have eventually pulled over those thing-a-ma-bobs that slow down the car and I was able to breathe again and say, “That was kind of fun.”
Logically, its reasonable to assume that this time will be like that. I’ll survive, I’ll be better for it, and the book will turn out great.
And yet, what does logic have to do with how I feel right now?
Nothing, I tell you! Logic is useless when that failure sign is flashing. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve survived the ride, I’m certain that this time is when the car goes off the track. THIS time I am doomed. THIS time there is no way I’ll ever make it. I don’t know why I thought I could. What was I thinking? This book is horrible, there’s no way I can fix it. I’ve taken one too many chances and this time I’ll fail miserably and have the words “Has Been” stamped permanently to my forehead. The very word DEADline mocks me from the dark corner of my mind, tapping his fingers together in a rhythmic pattern, waiting for me to give into what we both know is true.
I tried to explain this to a friend not too long ago and they didn’t get it. They said I should extend my deadline, or find more time to write, or just not worry so much. Uh-huh, good advice from someone who doesn’t know what they’re talking about. It’s a DEADline, it wants to kill me.
I can’t wait until that same person asks me if they look fat in something.
I honestly planned to talk about something else in this post, something interesting and deep. I have nothing of interest and depth to say, however, and thus I simply regurgitated the abyss of my current writing.
Stay tuned for next months post, when my DEADline will have passed. Maybe I will survive. Maybe not. I guess we’ll see. I hope the family I may or may not kill in the parking lot isn’t related to you