Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Guest Blog by Seanan McGuire

For my first guest blog ever, I'm lucky enough to have Seanan McGuire, brilliant author of the October Daye Series (Rosemary and Rue and the upcoming A Local Habitation) tell us a little about what it's like to be a new writer on multiple deadlines.  To win a copy of both Rosemary and Rue and an ARC of A Local Habitation, click HERE.

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RUNNING LIKE THE RED QUEEN: FAST AS YOU CAN TO STAY WHERE YOU ARE.

"You're the most disciplined person I know!"
"Wow, you sure work a lot."
"Are you sure you can't come out this weekend?"
"Come on, it's not like you're really doing anything..."

This is the exciting progression I travel through with my friends and loved ones every few weeks; from "wow, it's great how you can keep working like that" to "dammit, put down the keyboard and come outside for once."  Writing looks exactly like goofing off on the Internet if you can't see the screen, after all, and it can be a bit wearing to deal with someone who regularly vanishes into fictional worlds for days at a time.

Welcome to life with a writer on deadlines.

Like every idealistic young writer, I came to the business with a head full of stories, a strong desire to tell those stories, and not a damn clue what I was doing.  People periodically compare releasing a book to having a baby.  There are a lot of places where this comparison falls down...but I'll say that working to deadline, especially on multiple projects at the same time, is something like trying to plan a wedding, put on a musical, and organize a school bake sale...all at once.  With no delegation.  And three hundred singing mice trying  to "help" by composing inspiring ditties about your struggles.  (If you think I'm kidding about this last part, you've never seen a writer under deadline who's given up sleep in favor of word counts.)  Selling a book was barely the beginning.

Of course, being an over-achiever in the "slightly crazy" department, I wasn't content to launch one series, and instead came out the gate with two different sets of books, in two different genres, under two different names.  Fun for the whole family!  This means that even when I meet one deadline, there's another one lurking, getting ready to pounce.  There's a monster under my bed, and the monster's name is "Manuscript Due."

I've always been a fairly disciplined writer; becoming a professional has only magnified that.  There's a famous quote that goes "I love deadlines, I love the whooshing sound when they go rushing by."  This is sort of my definition of Hell.  An ordinary day in my life when under a deadline, which is pretty much every day:

5:00 AM: Get up.  Check email.  Discover that manuscript has not finished itself in the night.  Swear.

5:30 AM: Go to day job.  Do not smack anyone for asking if I'm rich and famous yet.  Do not release the robot army.

5:00 PM: Get home.  Discover that manuscript has not finished itself while I was in the office.  Swear some more.

5:10 PM: Pet the cats.

5:30 PM: Start writing.  Break only for dinner, petting the cats, and new episodes of Fringe.

9:30 PM: Go to bed.

This cycle functions for about a week at a time, before people get frustrated and drag me out of the house by my thumbs.  Lather, rinse, repeat.

I have no regrets about becoming a professional writer.  It really is what I've wanted to do since I was seven (well, be a writer, and be the new Princess of My Little Ponyland).  It's come with some exciting lessons in time management, and that's pretty awesome, too.

Now if you'll excuse me, I hear my deadlines calling...

5 comments:

Lisa Desrochers said...

Think I'm glad I'm only doing one series for the moment. Still feels like a treadmill most days. But in a good way =)

Suzette Saxton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Suzette Saxton said...

Great blog post. I can't wait to read your books, Seanan. Incidentally, I know what you mean about living in a fictional world... sometime it takes me a full minute to say "...huh?" when my kids ask me a question. Then I explain to them that mommy's mind is far away in another world, and it may take a moment for me to come back to real life.

Seanan said...

My SO has learned that sometimes the response to "How are you?" will be "Toby just broke her wrist." It mostly works out.

I hope you enjoy the books!

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Five Random Things About Suzie

1. I drink so much orange soda, it's probably running through my veins. I've been known to go through a twelve pack of diet sunkist in a day.

2. I'm legitimately nocturnal (or a vampire). I will be so exhausted at two pm that I'm falling asleep standing up - it has happened before, at Six Flags no less - but as soon as the sun goes down I'm wide awake.

3. I have a gorgeous unused $6000 Reem Acra wedding dress hanging in my closet, and it showed up on my doorstep the same day my (now ex) fiance broke up with me. And thank God for that. I wouldn't have wanted to waste that dress on him.

4. Social anxiety plagues me daily. I write a script and practice in front of the mirror when I have to make a phone call, but most people who interact with me have no idea how nervous I am (or perhaps they lie) because I've worked so hard to try to overcome it.

5. I'm actually worried that I will never love my children (when I do have them in the far off future) as much as I love my dogs. I just like animals better than people - they're sweet and innocent and soft and furry - is that so wrong?