Our local chapter of Romance Writers of America® has a combination writing challenge and chapter fund raiser that we call “I Will Write a Book.” Any member entering submits the title of her Work in Progress and five dollars by June 30. The challenge is to then submit the last page of the completed manuscript by November 30. All who finish have their names entered in the drawing for the cash award. The chapter gets one half of the cash entry fees; the drawing winner gets the other. There is nothing like a cash payday to get a writer motivated.
Along about November 1st, the procrastinators among us suddenly realize time is running out—thirty days to deadline. Other writers have already submitted their last pages. We have several chapters yet to go and may not finish in time. The horror!
You may have already surmised that I was among the procrastinators. Never fear. I determined to buckle down and make it to the finish line.
I advised Macho Guy that in the month of November, while I was trying to finish my manuscript by the deadline, the dinner menus would be sparse in the category of culinary delights. Only dishes that took minimal preparation time would grace our dinner table. Pizza (from the supermarket frozen food department), chili, fried chicken take out, Chinese take out, Deli take out, canned soup and salad, chicken nuggets, hot dogs, PB&Js, and anything he might choose to cook while I wrote, etc. He suffered in silence, thank heaven.
As the days went by, I became more and more driven to finish the damn book. I started skipping little things to have more writing time. I showered and shampooed every other day, then every third day, then every fifth day, and finally only on Sundays before church. Showering and shampooing took up too much time when I could have been writing. I skipped exercising for the same reason, and I skipped lunch when MG wasn’t at home.
The most important item of all that I did without was enough sleep. I got less and less as the month wore on. At first, I stayed up about an hour past my usual bedtime, and then it was two hours past, then three, then four, and finally five hours past bedtime on the last two nights before deadline. During the last week of November, I was getting between four and five hours sleep a night. I don’t know how Einstein and Edison managed it.
The main reason I got so little sleep is that Schnoodle Dog never lets me sleep past 8:30 a.m. most mornings, even on the morning after a late night of writing. MG taught the little guy to wake me in the morning when he was just a pup. Schnoodle Dog takes his job very seriously, and MG appears to take perverse pleasure in seeing the little guy rub his cold wet nose on my face. ::shudder::
Well, I finished the damn book, but sleep deprivation took its toll. I was so exhausted Tuesday morning that I never made it out of my pajamas and had to take a nap that afternoon. I couldn’t bear to sit at the computer for another day of writing, so I postponed writing my blog post for a day. It was for the best. My brain was mush. I actually had trouble thinking and remembering. I believe I lost half my vocabulary—temporarily. It found its way back home today.
I’m afraid to read the last two chapters of the manuscript. I have the nagging suspicion that as sleep deprived as I was, I most likely wrote crap there at the end. That isn’t the worst of it. I had to slap all the chapters together into one document file and paginate it so I could submit that last numbered page. I discovered that my manuscript is too long—195 pages too long. I have a bit of cutting to do before revisions and polish. O joy.