Dec 15, 2011


Deadlines are tough. Deadlines are inevitable. They loom there, in the distance, and grow closer and closer as the days tick by.

Most authors and illustrators I know don't write/illustrate full time, and even the ones that do have other things on their plate, like, I don't Friends? PTA? Church? Dr. Who? Whatever it is, these other aspects of life are important, and are often higher priority. So how do authors do it?

Honestly, I don't know. I'm in constant awe of my clients who turn manuscripts in to me or their editor on time (or mostly on time) despite having a baby (or two), teaching full-time, coaching their kid's baseball team while working full-time, running a household, getting married, driving across the country, being terribly sick, etc. (All of these things and more have happened--my clients are freaking SUPERHEROES).

Other people working with writers are on deadlines, too. Editors, publicists, art departments, etc...all have deadlines. Deadlines that are directly related to writer deadlines. It's like this amazing house of cards that just keeps building and building...though, these are pretty sturdy cards. If one slips, it doesn't mean they all come crumbling down. Maybe one or two fall with it. Or if it's really bad, maybe a whole level. But your publisher has such a strong foundation, that most of the cards stay in place. (So don't worry!)

Agents have deadlines, too.

And speaking of deadlines, this has been my life the past 2 weeks:

6:00, Wake up (sometimes 5am, depending how backlogged I am on edits)

Mmmm. Cofffeeeeeeeee.

Sit down to read manuscripts/take notes/work on line edits.

*make sure iphone is charging!

7:15ish, PeeWee wakes up and finds me if Joe hasn't found him first
-Let PeeWee out
-Administer PeeWee's medicine (poor old guy....)
-Give PeeWee treat and a snuggle
-Back to work

8 - 8:40, shower, brush, do hair, pack bag, get dressed, run out to the car, realize I forgot my charging iphone, run back in for it, rush to the train station

8:44, park blocks away and curse myself for not just walking from home, run to the train with Joe carrying my third cup of coffee in a to-go cup (he's the best), barely catch the 8:48 as the doors shut on my heels

8:49, settle into a seat, take out my laptop and/or iphone and either continue editing and/or start answering emails while Joe reads a book/the paper

9:35, arrive in Penn Station, kiss Joe goodbye, join the ranks of commuters walking to work

9:50, arrive in awesome new office (post to come about said new office!)

10:00 - 12:00, emails (lots!), phone conferences, paperwork (lots), checking in with Nancy/Kathleen/Suzie

noon - 2:30, lunch meeting w/an editor or other industry professional (yes, these are most days), or eat at my desk while reading.

2:30 - 6, more emails (lots and LOTS of emails), phone conferences (usually 2 or 3 of them), sometimes an afternoon meeting, more paperwork, in-office status updates (and perhaps a discussion of a new project from one of us)

This is where the day changes. About half the time it goes like this:

6:30 - meet an industry person (editor, agent, book scout, etc) for drinks, or go to an industry event since there are many this time of year

9:08 or 9:52, catch one of these trains home (eat a hot dog in Penn Station for dinner...sorry, Mom)

10:00 or 10:30, Joe picks me up at the train station, PeeWee on his lap--go home, wind down and watch TV with my boys for about an hour.

12:00, catch up on email (still lots), read and edit until I fall asleep.

The other half of the time it goes like this:

6:13 or 6:39, meet Joe at Penn station to catch the train home

7-9:00, get home, take care of PeeWee, eat dinner, wind down and watch TV with my boys for about an hour, an occasional client/film call during this time.

9:00 - midnightish, catch up on emails, read and edit

There have been a few almost all-nighters in there these past weeks, too. After all, it's deadline time! (Heck, look at the timestamp on this post...I've been up since three!).

But guess what? I get to read things like the second installment in both the Something Strange & Deadly series, and the Ever Afters series. And the second book in The Shadow Reader series, too! I get to work on Kody Keplinger's latest project, and read through the final revisions on Insurgent. I get to drool over the ending of Erica O'rourke's trilogy, and laugh at the twisted humor in Allan Woodrow's latest, and feel a chill down my spine from one of my newest projects by Gemma Cooper. I get to be transported back to the Progressive Era, or 200 years into the future. And I even get to play around with illustrations and text by author-illustrators like this one and this one.

When I get to do all of that, isn't all the hectic running around worth it?

Hells yeah it is!

And what especially keeps me going, is knowing that all of my clients are running around the same way (well...not the same way, but they've got other jobs and other lives outside of writing, too!). And they never complain.

We're all in it because we love books.

That's a rush that's even better than coffee.

Good luck on your pre-holiday deadlines, everyone!


dissertation help said...

very interesting! thank you

Shari Green said...

Pretty crazy schedule! I can relate -- as a writer/mother/pastor's wife/nurse, my days are packed, too. But yes, because of our love of books and story, it's so totally worth it!

May you find time for a bit of R&R over the holidays.... :)

JoSVolpe said...

Wow, Shari! That's so much! Welcome to the trenches, my friend. You've earned it :-)

Colin Smith said...

Having to choose between INSURGENT and Doctor Who? That's a toughie! Agents are awesome, and I hope to have one soon. Thanks for this insight into your life, Joanne! :)

Jeff Chen said...

My morning also involves a pet.

5:25 Kitteh jumps onto bed
5:26 Kitteh bites me (not girlfriend, whose kitteh it is), I try to burrow under covers
5:27 Meow! (“Gimme my treat, hooman!”)
5:27 MEOW! (“@#$& NOW!!!”)
5:28 I dispense treat for kitteh, go back to bed
5:35 Meow!

(repeat until 6:15)

6:15 I open up the computer, start writing
6:32 Meeeow? (“Can I smell your nose.”)
6:33 Meeeow! (“I want to smell your nose!”)
6:33 Kitteh sits on keyboard, butt-types a few words that are better than what I've written
6:34 (sound of Jeff crying)
6:35 Meow!

And so it goes.

Happy holidays!

JoSVolpe said...


That is awesome, Jeff. Love it.

Thanks, Colin!

Claire Dawn said...

I was not envying you until Kody Keplinger, Insurgent, et al. came up. Then I started to drool. *green-eyed monster attempts to eat your blog post*

Happy holidays.

readingkidsbooks said...

Wow, what a schedule!

The mom in me thinks you should sleep more & eat your greens.

The writer in me thinks I've been a serious slacker! I guess I'm getting up early tomorrow.