Sunday, September 16, 2007

One More Day

Having had to plan for a company offsite for the past couple of months in the midst of work (and having had to do constant editing for the preschool textbooks again), I found myself with much, much less time to write an entry for Dean Alfar's Spec Fic Anthology this year.

Specifically, I had exactly one day to squeeze a piece of fiction from the depths of my soul.

This is how that one day turned out:

8:00am: I wake up, and find out that I'm supposed to do the family bakeshop's accounting early this month. Apparently some financial consultant is going to be abroad for the next few weeks, and so I need to rush the darn documents to her before Monday. I frantically start crunching numbers and fiddling with printouts.

10:00am: I arrive with the rest of my family at our grandmother's place for the traditional Harvest Festival dice games. This is supposed to take place on Sunday, but for the reason that some family members are heading away on the same trip abroad, we were forced to move it one day early. I seethe at the fact that my schedule is being compromised by multiple events at once.

12:00nn: I'm still seething. Lunch is going sloooowly. It seems to me that everybody is engaging in idle talk despite my pleas for some time to work.

2:00pm: I find out that 1) The TV is busted, and 2) We're going to have to send it to the shop today. I spend fifteen minutes lugging an ancient 29-inch TV down two flights of stairs, wrenching my back in the process. At this point, I'm already getting ticked off at everybody. They can't seem to figure out why.

4:00pm: I escape to the mall with my laptop for some "alone time". Instead of setting up my laptop in a single solitary place where I can write, it takes me hours to calm down enough to get my thoughts together. The fact that I run into some friends and spend some time entertaining them (because I don't want to be any more impolite than I've been so far) doesn't help.

6:00pm: I go home for dinner. I'm feeling much calmer at this point, although I haven't written the story yet.

8:00pm: I open up my laptop and start a draft.

9:00pm: The first draft starts boring me to death, and I decide to start over.

10:00pm: The second draft is a bust. I start a third draft, telling myself that it's now or never.

11:00pm: I hit one thousand words, and am hitting a fast pace. I have my doubts about the plot development, but I have little time to think about it.

11:30pm: I hit two thousand words on the third draft.

11:40pm: I get stuck somewhere around 2,300 words. I start wrapping up, praying that the ending will miraculously come to mind.

11:45pm: I can't decide on an ending. I write random sentences, erase them for varying degrees of triteness, and write random sentences in their place.

11:50pm: I wrap up the last words and perform a spell check. I do the final word count. I open up Yahoo! Mail.

11:55pm: I start writing the cover letter for the submission.

11:57pm: I waste time editing the cover letter. Old habits die hard.

11:58pm: I send the stupid piece. I'm pretty sure that I submit this before midnight, but by now I'm too tired to pinpoint the correct time.

12:09am: I write this blog post. Seen that, done that, got the t-shirt. I'm not sure if I even have a prayer of making it into the anthology at this point.

Now I just have to worry about Philippine Genre Stories' October 5 deadline, and after that, it's Fully Booked's October 31 deadline. And even then, my textbook publisher is still breathing down my neck.

*Sigh* What a life.


noel said...

I started counting the days till the anthology deadline 50 days ago, and still ended up beginning work on it on the last day. Didn't get to finish, though, sigh... Oh well, there's next year's anthology. Time to work on the PGS christmas story. Seventeen days... hmmm....

Ida said...

I did try to write a story. But it only came out 1000 words long. And then when I added a scene it was 1800 words. And then I added another scene and then it was 2200 words. By that time I decided that the 3 extra scenes were completely useless, so I deleted them and added just one long scene (or so I thought), but the final word count became 1300. And I wasn't even home the day of the deadline. *sigh*
Point being, you should be proud of yourself, Sean! Get into the anthology or not, you at least already beat a lot of us at beating the deadline! :)

Sean said...

Noel: I think that it's simply in the nature of some writers to come up with something close to the deadline. Maybe the stress makes for good fuel, or something. My personal average is anywhere from one week to one day before a deadline.

Ida: I get that problem, too. The sad part is that I can't even add scenes to "pad" my story -- I feel that once it's written, then it's written. I start over a lot, as a result.

It's not beating the deadline that irks me, mind you. It's that I had a choice between beating the deadline with a substandard story, or not submitting anything at all. It was a completely lose-lose situation, and it's not something I'd like to encounter very often.