This week it begins again. The madness.
In a little over four months, I’m due to submit the manuscript for my next book.
Of course I’ve known about the deadline since the beginning of the year – and I’ve been anticipating it for even longer – but the truth is, unless the deadline Banshee is screaming, I just don’t have the motivation to do my best work. Or any work at all, really.
I left it this late with the last book too, but back then I was in the fortunate position of just having been dumped, both from the latest in a succession of jobs and by the latest in a succession of women. This left me with plenty of time to write, with only episodes of Diagnosis Murder and days-long bouts of sobbing to distract me from my contractual obligation. Even then, if blog timestamps serve me correctly, I staggered across the finish line two weeks late.
Second time not so lucky. This time, personal life aside, I have two paying gigs – at the Telegraph and on TechCrunch – each week; amounting to a baseline of three full-length columns a week. And that’s before whatever else is demanded by my demanding editors.
The book, assuming the same length as the last one, will weigh in at about 100,000 words. Some of it is already written: a couple of chapters are in a state where I’d be happy for you to read them. But still, allowing for special occasions, prior commitments, conferences and the like, I’ve just worked out that I need to be writing about 1,000 words a day, six days a week to come anywhere close to meeting my deadline. Add in the world-load of the columns over those six days and that total nudges towards 2,000 a day.
I feel sick.
Which is my way of saying I’m sorry. I’m sorry if for the next few months it takes me a bit longer than is polite to answer your email; or if I snippily reject your kind invitation to attend some event or other; or if I can’t even find the time necessary to respond to your friendly Twitter @reply with a dismissive ‘LOL’.
If I’m to have any hope whatever of finishing this mother, then every word I write and every work-related thing I attend in the next four months needs to contribute somehow to that daily 2,000. After all, W&N have entrusted me – again, the fools – with a book advance; and TechCrunch and the Telegraph are keeping me, healthily, in coffee and other stimulants – so really it’s the least I can do to give them my all.
Having said all of that, as happened with the last book, I probably will start writing more short posts on here as my deadline ploughs near. Once I get into a writing mood, it’s hard to stop and if I don’t write the occasional piece of badly-written navel-gazing bullshit here then there’s a risk it’ll end up (more so than usual) in something I’m being paid for.
So, apology given and explanation made – here we go again. Head down, coffee poured, fingers poised and – inshallah – by the time I turn 30 this December, the end will be in sight. Because God knows I’m getting too old for this shit.