I have been working on the second book in the James Munkers series. I have a week to complete the next draft.
And I'm not ready.
I'm not done yet - not by a long chalk.
There are still whole chapters to complete. I don't even know how many, but the number could very well extend beyond the fingers of one hand.
There are plot and character threads to be neatly tied up by the end of the book, and I haven't quite figured out how to do most of them. What will Aunt Daphne's role be in the showdown? Why did my brain decide to create a rift between Kit and Will yesterday, which I now need to resolve on top of everything else? And how will I reveal the important, intricate details of how The Source works in the middle of all the action?
Hang on, have I even called it The Source in the manuscript?
Nope. That was a previous draft. Bollocks.
There are plot points that I've changed my mind about halfway through writing, thus making it necessary to go back and change things in earlier chapters.
And did I go back and change them straight away, like a dedicated person?
I did not.
Did I at least make a list of the things that need to be changed, like an organised person?
I did not.
Will I have time at the end of the week to read through the whole manuscript, looking for inconsistencies?
And even when there aren't inconsistencies, as such, the writing is dreadful. It's frenetic prose, fuelled by sugar and caffeine and an overly excited imagination. Random things are cropping up all over the place. A multi-coloured unicorn made an appearance yesterday - just popped up in the middle of a fight scene. It has scant relevance to the actual plot, but I couldn't stop it. That is just one example of many. My characters are running out of expletives that can be reasonably used in a children's book.
And the exclamation marks... I wouldn't be surprised if my fingers are Shift-1ing in my sleep.
Now, I don't really mind the frantic tone of the story as far as the narrative goes. It's told from the point of view of our reluctant hero, James, and he is by nature a frantic young man. He's not one to maintain his cool in the face of ninjas and Vikings, so a little overwroughtness seems fitting.
But surely the writer should have a degree of control over the plot itself? Surely she should get a say as to whether mythical beasts drop round for a spot of tea?
And surely she hasn't got time to stop and ponder for ten minutes as to whether a sentence starting with the word "surely" should be punctuated with a full stop or a question mark at the end?/.
It's getting to that stage, though, where I'm obsessing over the really little things, because if I look at the big picture I'll fall off my chair with hysterical laughing.
And do you know what the tragic thing is? This deadline of mine is self-imposed. Or, rather, it is husband-imposed. Ian got sick of me toying with my manuscripts and said, "Right, James by the end of July, Ashan by the end of October." And it's not an unreasonable demand. I have been working on them both for several years now.
And deadlines do, historically, work well for me. They keep me focussed and get words on the page. It's just that this particular deadline is so damned loomy. If I get to next Friday and round off the whole sorry mess with "and then they all woke up", it's Ian's fault.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go change narrators three-quarters of the way through the story. Yeah, that'll work.