Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Slightly inspired by artificial deadlines

It's Day 29 of the Picture Book Marathon (which I signed up for on Feb. 1st). The goal was to have 26 picture books finished by the end of the day. My count (as of 11:11 a.m.)? Three nearly complete books, and ideas and/or outlines for another 12 or so.

After some hesitation on that first day, I began to feel hope and inspiration, actually letting myself believe that I was going to not only come up with 26 manuscripts, but that I was going to sell many of them. Nine days in, that hope hadn't entirely vanished despite not having completed a single book—I met a writer friend for lunch halfway between here and West Virginia, where we brainstormed together for an hour.

The beginning of such efforts always feels like the start of a love affair—there's an almost tingly sensation of playfulness and life-changing opportunity. And then comes the hard work, whether paying a mortgage, or creating a conflict-filled plot.

I got really, unexpectedly busy this month, so the PBM became less and less of a priority. If it had been a real deadline with consequences (i.e., money or stigma) attached, I would have found a way to make it a priority. But I knew, deep down, that it was an artificial deadline and that it really didn't matter if I came up with 26 books in a month.

Yet, without this artificial deadline, I probably wouldn't have made myself come up with ideas for so many picture books, nor would I have attempted to write down some of the stories I used to spontaneously make up for my kids at bedtime (e.g., "Cleo, Secret Empress of the Cats").

So, I don't have 26 books completed (although I still have another 12 hours or so...), but I do have a list of ideas to work on—and I got to see my friend, Mary, for the first time in six months.

No comments: