Matthew Munson: A deadline looms

Working to a deadline

As a writer, I can’t ever pretend to have had a plan. I’ve usually stumbled into a particular path that works and then gone as far as I can.

When I wrote the first book I had published – Fall From Grace – I did know that I had a second story inside the creative darkness of my soul, and I was fortunate to have that published as well through Inspired Quill.

When Book 2 was finished, and I was waiting for Publication Date, I wondered what I should work on next. Having two fantasy novels under my belt (I am quite the geek), I wanted to try different shades of my favourite genres.

Stories to tell

I had an idea for a story that was bubbling away in the back of my mind; a science-fiction story about a prison world. I’d first had the idea when I’d been peering in the window of Woolworth’s – shows how long ago this was – and saw a jigsaw box’s cover picture of an alien world with two moons in the distant sky, and a small compound on the planet’s surface. My first thought, unbidden, was, “I wonder if that’s a prison planet. What sort of stories could I tell on there?”

As I worked on the book, I found myself liking the characters more and more. In fact, I was sorry to lose one of them towards the end – I shall leave it as vague as that, as I want you to read the thing and find out what I’m talking about, after all – and wanted to learn more about the others.

And the more I thought about it, the more I had to continue with this universe. That said, I need to make sure it’s reasonably authentic, so I’m actually having to do research on some scientific principles, which is rather throwing me; I’ve never had to research fiction in such detail before.

Talking deadlines

As a result of all this work, I’ve managed to already explore the universe even further in book two, have written about 65,000 words, and brazenly said to my publisher that I’d get this book to her by the end of the year. I think I also said  that I could happily commit to a third book by the middle of next year. No problems; that’s absolutely fine. I can do that easily.

Except that deadlines sometime become an interesting challenge for me, and the Big Cheese at Inspired Quill has now set me the challenge of getting the first draft of book 2 to her by the beginning of December – in just three months. The very thought of committing to any sort of deadline when it comes to my writing always fills me with utter dread, and I wish I could tell you why – I can only assume that it’s something to do with the determination to work according to my own pace and my own creative flow, but the more I use that as an excuse, the more I will end up like Douglas Adams and just love the sound of a deadline as it goes whooshing by.

So I’m publicly committing to the deadline in the vague hope that it helps me succeed in sticking to it. Maybe I’ll even hit it this time round …