Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Writing Deadlines - Terri Brisbin

To paraphrase Jane Austen, it is a truth universally acknowledged that a writer on a deadline must be in want of a well-trained family. I’ve been writing on deadlines for ten years now and I think my family might finally be getting the hang of it!

At first, with a five-year-old, a ten-year-old and a fifteen-year-old, it was nearly impossible to write from the time school ended until the moment they finally fell asleep at night, so most of my writing happened in the wee-small hours of late night. Training them seemed more work than simply adjusting my own schedule to theirs, so I bided my time.
Later, as the boys grew and the contracts continued, and as I learned my deadline-binge-writing style was not a fluke, my husband and I began to plan ahead, turning down invitations during those last few weeks before the book was due and rearranging work and other commitments to open up some quality writing time. With each book, my wider circle of family and friends accepted the ‘I’m on deadline’ excuse with a bit less persuasion, and even some measure of enthusiasm. Even my mother-in-law began explaining my absences from family events with a knowing look and accepting tone. This was good!

I began training my children and husband to observe the little warning sign and the closed office door. Unless something (or someone!) was on fire or bleeding, Dad was the designated parent-in-charge. Meals were on-the-fly and could even involve two or three nights in a row of take-out. Meals by Mom were appreciated when they appeared on the table and not expected or demanded. This was going really well!

Now, one son is grown and married, another has just moved out into his own apartment and I have only one son left at home. My husband finds being the parent-in-charge much less a challenge with only one to chase after. . . or to take to the doctor’s when the inevitable illness happens as it always does when I’m on deadline.

So, if I’m dealing with only one child and one husband now, how can I tell if they’re really trained well or if it’s just a more manageable group? Let me tell you. . . .

One of the things that helps me write, or that I just need, during those last minute deadline binges is a bag of salty pretzels. Some authors need chocolate, some need caffeine. I need pretzels. My husband watches as I stockpile bags and knows that deadline writing is coming…. IT’S COMING!!

This past weekend as I returned from a day-job business trip with another one planned for this weekend and a novella due. . . on Monday. . . my husband demonstrated that all these years of training have been working. He presented me with three bags of pretzels and called them my novella-writing package! Yay!

Now, with my well-trained family in position for this week’s deadline writing binge, I can move assuredly towards finishing my novella. And, of course, that’s what I’m doing if my editor asks…



Gigi said...

Hi Terri,
Maybe you should write a short book on training a family.
Seems like you did a good job.

Pretzels are a favorite snack of mine too. I like the tiny stick pretzels and a diet soda. Yummy.

I am assuming those are you kids in the picture. Good looking bunch.

I don't know how you writers handle the pressures of a deadline. I think it would drive me crazy. I'll leave the deadlines to the experts.

Pat Cochran said...

"Congratulations" - it sometimes takes a while to finally get a
new plan accepted.

Pat Cochran

Estella said...

Congrats on having a well trained family. My husband is the worst on of the family for needing Mom. he can never find anything.

Ann M. said...

Waves hi to Terri from down under.

Do hope I'll get to see you in the future even though our East Brunswick Borders is no more.

Ann M.
Expat down under

Maureen said...

Best of luck with your novella and congratulations on a well trained family.

Terri Brisbin said...

My husband and kids would deny it if they knew I was talking about them...but it's true, they are learning!

Thanks for stopping in and leaving comments for me....