This particular deadline crunch began with a challenge. I attended a writers' conference in mid-September. A woman I've known for years and have worked with frequently, managing editor at a publishing house that has produced some of my books, attended the same conference. She issued a broad challenge to anyone willing to accept it: The publishing house had a contest going involving three different genres. They sought novellas in each of the three categories, with the best entry in each to be published next year. One of those categories is historical romance and my friend, the editor, challenged me to send her a manuscript.
The problem? She showed me the flyer for the contest and issued her personal challenge on September 14. The deadline for all entries was October 15. Could I write a novella start to finish in a month?
Now you understand why I've been MIA. I've been pushing that deadline. The good news is, the novella is complete at 36,000 words. Three lovely readers and an editor gave it a once-over for me, even when I gave them a two-day deadline to get it done, and I submitted my complete manuscript two days ago, on October 14, actually one day early. It's a good story, too. I did it! But that's about all I've done lately.
What has this experience taught me? For one thing, I can be stubborn about taking on a challenge, even if it doesn't seem realistic. Also, I can write a book in a month if I'm highly motivated. Those are good things to know. Not so good are some of the other lessons, like realizing I can disappear so completely into the black hole of my fictional world that I can practically vanish from the physical world we inhabit. Not good. Not good at all.
I'm back now, remembering where I live and reconnecting with the actual people around me. I'm even working again on my other deadlines, which got pushed back or snubbed altogether during my month of publishing panic. Today, I appear to be just like other people with other jobs, people who work given hours and live the rest of the time with family and friends.
I'm not cured, however. Deadline Fever will surely strike again. One day soon, I'll realize I've spent so much time playing with my imaginary friends that my actual, physical friends wonder what has happened to me. Or maybe not. My friends know I'm a writer, after all.