Warning: this post might border on insanity.
I am not in charge of my book. Gillian is.
Let me rewind a bit. Yesterday, I went back to Antioch University to visit some of my professors, catch the student reading of the evening, and hang out with some friends of mine. While there, I caught up with my friend and former teacher Alistair McCartney. He asked how I was doing, and I said that I was okay considering that I’ve pretty much been laid off for the summer from my tutoring job. Then he asked how my writing was going. I told him about Undead and Inhuman, and said that I was pushing forward on it but that I was still a solid several thousand words behind.
“But I DO have a deadline for myself,” I said.
Alistair said that it was important to set deadlines for yourself. But writers also need bosses looking over their shoulders. It’s not a free-for-all. Writers need bosses, even if they’re known only to the writer. Leonard Chang, another writer who once taught at Antioch, went a step further and created a boss for himself named Ted. The logic was simple: writers, especially freelancers, need the discipline to finish a project. You can’t say, “Oh, if I don’t finish this story, it’s okay because I’m my own boss. I answer to myself.” That won’t do. That simply will NOT do!
That’s where Gillian comes in. Gillian is the literary agent who doesn’t exist. She’s a loud, foul-mouthed, leather-clad harpy currently working on her fourth divorce. She has a fondness for cigarettes, and when she’s particularly pissed off, she’ll blow smoke in my face to make sure I know it. I put up with her because at this point in time I don’t have the literary clout for a real agent. I think she’s a member of the Association of Authors’ Representatives, though I have a hard time believing she’s ever heard of their ethics code.
Gillian is nothing new. She just sort of popped into my heard around the time I began doing research work for Undead and Inhuman. She was impressed that I got the research and the plotting done in one month rather than two, but now I’m lagging behind with the first draft. She knows this. She knows the work is hard, that life can be a bigger bitch than she is and that sometimes there are days when you really can’t get any work done. And maybe – MAYBE – she might be willing to cut me some slack and give me an extra week to finish the first draft is there’s no other way around it and I can’t meet the deadline to the hour. But now that the cat’s out of the bag, she’ll be there to nag me every day until I get up to speed. Even if I do get caught up, she’ll probably keep showing up just to make sure I don’t slack off again, because the longer it takes for me to finish the book, the longer it’ll be before there’s any possibility of me getting paid for it. And like any agent, she takes a percentage out of my soul. Uh, I mean, my royalties.
It’s nearly 2:30 AM now, and I should get some sleep. If I don’t rest and get a good amount of words out today, Gillian threatened to turn my ass into an ashtray, light up a cigar, and grind the burning embers into my sphincter.