Tuesday, September 1, 2009

24 Hours Before Deadline: One Woman’s Story

5 a.m. Yesterday, the day before deadline—get up, drink coffee.Decide to pack kids’ backpacks before writing. What’s this? Seems to be an uncompleted sheet for son’s 7th grade Business Computer class. And…oh no. The school needs my signature on about 8 documents relating to son’s science labs and dangerous equipment.

5:30—Start revisions

6:—Get son up to complete homework that he’d forgotten about. Get daughter up, since she has to be at school at 7 every day.

6:45: Drive carpool. Nip carpool argument in the bud.

8:00—12:00 Read the second half of the manuscript over again. Realize I have a timeline error. Fix the timeline error. Read through second half of manuscript again quickly, making sure timeline is correct and I haven’t missed any parts.

12:00—Go get cupcakes for third-grader’s teacher’s birthday at the elementary school.

12:15—Realize that Costco sells cupcakes packaged in groups of 20. I need 24. I don’t need 40. I don’t need 20. Decide to get cake instead.

12:20—Brainwave—if I get cake instead of cupcakes, this means I also need to get plates and forks. I go to that aisle and get a massive amount of plates and forks (this is, after all, Costco.)

12:30—I’m in the car. Oh. If I’m doing a cake instead of cupcakes, I should have candles. I could skip candles with cupcakes, but not with cake.

12:40—I’m back home. And I suddenly realize I have no more birthday candles because the Birthday Princess wiped out my supply when she turned 8 a couple of weeks ago. But I do have matches. And oh! I need a cake server.

12:45—I’m in the car, driving to the school. I park and call a friend. “Do you have birthday candles?!?!”

1:00—We have the birthday party. Teacher is surprised and delighted and it’s all worth it.

1:55—Waiting for school bus in my car at the top of the hill. Scanning my manuscript (I have my laptop with me in the car.) I frown. “This isn’t right. This character wouldn’t do this! And…oh…he’s doing it here, too."

2:00—Talk to another mom at the bus stop. She asks how the book is going. “Great. Except it’s due tomorrow and I just found these two messed-up scenes.”

2:10—My daughter is coming off the school bus. She has homework and doesn’t understand it. Neither, it turns out, do I.

3:00—Back on the manuscript. What can I do with these two scenes? Think. Think.

3:30—Son is back from middle school. He does understand his homework. Excellent. He’s in honors and I’m not bright enough to help him even if I wanted to.

4:00—I proofread the recipes in my book. Waaaait a minute. There’s no measurement listed by the cheddar cheese. Call my mother to double-check the recipe.

4:05—The children pick the moment I’m on the phone to go completely insane. They run up and down the stairs whooping and hollering. I slam my door shut and keep talking to my mother. My daughter opens the door. “Mom, he’s….” She stops at my threatening look.

4:10—My mother is distracted because she’s got a huge household emergency involving broken pipes and a workman who has an urgent question. I continue pressing on the cheddar cheese issue.

4:30—6:00—Revise. Children are scared to bother me.

6:00—I decide Hamburger Helper sounds like a great meal for the family. Oh. Why is the meat still frozen? I put it in the fridge the night before…

6:30---A computer problem erupts. What have I done to displease the gods? I am consumed by the problem. Nothing will work…no printer, no online connection, the keyboard is possessed by a demon that makes me type in the wrong spot in my document.

7:15—My husband comes home from work and considers returning there after seeing wife who appears to be having a nervous breakdown.

7:20—Husband starts working on computer issues.

10:00—Husband finishes fixing all related computer issues.

10:05—I realize I’m exhausted. I set my alarm for 4:00 a.m. and go to bed.

10:10—I can’t sleep.

10:15—I take a Benadryl.

10:30—I have an idea to fix the two messed-up scenes. But now the Benadryl has kicked in. I turn on the light. I scribble on a post-it and stick it to the top of my laptop.

4:00—I get up. I put lots of sugar in my mug. I drink lots of coffee.

4:15---I fix the two scenes.

6:00—7:00—Repeat the process of getting children up and doing carpool.

7:15—9:00--Put finishing touches on the manuscript.

9:02—I realize I don’t have a title for my book. Or the series.

9:05—I put a bunch of ideas on a piece of paper.

9:15---I email my editor with the manuscript and the ideas for the titles.

Now? I’m planning a lunch with my husband. And I think I’ll take the rest of the day off…..