When Reality Attacks

I am a fiction writer.

To be more specific, I write fiction for children.  Often fantasy.  I daydream a lot.  I read Harry Potter.  I watch Doctor Who.  I don't go in for all this reality rubbish.  Reality is tax returns and grocery lists and shoe sizes.  Reality is boring.  Made-up stuff is cool.

Which is why I'm feeling a little tense at the moment, because reality seems to be knocking at the door.  Insistently.

Part of this unhappy situation is self-imposed.  You see, I'm getting married in two weeks.

Now, just to be clear: I love the fact that, in two weeks, I will be married to the greatest guy that ever did cook a chicken and pumpkin gnocchi.  I'm talking about a man who pours wine, saut├ęs green beans and talks plot devices all at the same time.  I am the luckiest duck in the whole wide pond, and I look forward to married life with glee and a little smugness.  But there's this wedding thing that we have to get through first.

Anyone who's gone through this process knows what I'm talking about.  Weddings.  They're all about eternal happiness and looking pretty and sparkling wine, right?

Nope.  Well, the actual day might be.  I haven't got that far yet.  But the eighteen (18) months leading up to them are about stationery and how many vegetarians and flight delays and when do we have to pay the cupcake lady and where are the port-a-loos going.  Details.  Reality.

Boring.

But boring in a way that you have to be really excited about and invested in.  It's like a special level of hell.

But that's okay because, you know what?  I'm a fiction writer.  If reality becomes too much for me, I'll just bury myself in my work.

Only that's not working either at the moment.  For one thing my legitimate writing work - my book "James Munkers: Super Freak" which is being published next year - has been with my editor for a good few weeks in this wedding lead-up.  While she had it, I couldn't really work on it.

"Not to worry," I said.  "I'll write a whole other book instead.  What a clever little chook I am!"

Clever?  Balls.  I did my usual trick of setting myself a word-count limit for every day, but that just turned into one more chore to stress about.  It lasted for five days before I let myself off the hook and told myself it would be a slower work-in-progress that I could use as a creative release throughout this traumatic time of real life.

I told myself that a week and a half ago.  I haven't touched the damned thing, because I've been too busy getting my dress fixed and making accommodation bookings and spending hours crouched in front of a sewing machine that doesn't seem to like me.  Five times it's stopped working.  How can one get the creative juices flowing when one is doing battle with an uncooperative sewing machine?

Then the editor sent "James" back to me and I got really excited.  Sewing machines could wait.  I had legitimate work to do.  Creative work.

I opened the document, and wept.

This was not creative work.  This was copyedit work.  This was grammar and punctuation.  This was split infinitives and tenses and, "Lindsey, do you really need that adverb there?"  Blue marks, and plenty of them, on every page of my beautiful book.

It was reality again: the reality of my book being put into the public arena next year, and how I might not want to present myself to the world as an adverb addict with sloppy grammar skills.  No creativity for me.  It was publishing time.  Like I said, I wept.

God knows what I would have done if the marks had been in red.

I didn't shed too many tears, though.  "To hell with all you reality-mongers," I said.  "I'm going to do this publishing business creatively."

Oh yeah?

It started off well.  You see, there are these things around these days called book trailers.  They're like movie trailers, except they're for books, and they're perfect for advertising your literary wares on the internet in a fun, funky way.  Seriously, some of the ones about at the moment are really creative, and there's something about the colour and movement and sound that grabs you in a way that a blurb on the back cover would struggle to do.  (For one thing, I can just post it shamelessly on Facebook which is easier than dragging all my friends bodily into a bookshop.  Isn't technology wonderful?)

So off I go to a meeting with some talented local people (I love those) who design awesome things.  I pitch it to them.  They have some terrific ideas about the trailer and how it can tie into the look of the cover art, website, etc.  I get really excited.  They say they can have it done by the middle of January.  I say that's perfect timing, as the book is due to come out later in the year - around May - and that will give it a good run and hopefully help build some anticipation for its release.  It also gives me time to sort out the cover art (which the publishers are very nicely letting me have a bash at) so it matches and looks professional and is all lovely.

Then, today, I email my publisher all excited about all the exciting things that are happening.  They're lovely and supportive, but say that it'll all have to be ready pretty promptly as the book is due to go into print in late January.

At which point, I spit tea all over my keyboard.

"Late January?" I nonchalantly (adverb) write back.  "So soon?  So, do we have a timeline for when all these publishy things need to get done?"

Yes.  Yes we do.

The copyedit needs to be back with them pretty promptly, so Ian and I are going over all the grammar and adverbs this weekend (along with a 30th birthday, a family lunch, and with eleven days to go until the wedding).

The editor is starting on the "design version" of the book next week, so it would be good to have the cover sorted by mid-November (while I'm away on my honeymoon).

The publisher is going overseas from early December (the same day I get back from my honeymoon) until mid-January, so nothing much will happen in that period, meaning it all has to happen beforehand if we want it published in late January.

So, basically, I have two weeks to do the copyedit, design a book cover, organise a book trailer, find out how many vegetarians, pay the cupcake lady, pick up the port-a-loos and get married.

Well played, reality.  Well played.

Now, I'm not saying this can't be done.  I shall do the copyedit.  My book will have a cover.  I am getting married in two weeks.  The problem is these are real things that need doing, and they need real action to get them done.  I can't just get myself out of trouble with a few deft moves on the keyboard.  I need to make phone calls and chase people up and go through all the blue marks on my word document.

But first I think I'll pour myself a really big glass of wine and go and watch some Doctor Who.