Deadline? What Deadline?

I’ve been a self-publisher for a couple of years now. The thrill of seeing my first book available online is a joy I have rarely trumped. It’s up there with the first time my current partner told me she loved me, and being on the Sydney Mardi Gras main stage with the Sydney Gay and Lesbian choir. Who knew I could be so awake and alive at 5am on a bleak and freezing early autumn day?

The best thing about being a self-published author is there are no externally imposed deadlines.

The worst thing about being a self-published author is …

… there are no externally imposed deadlines!

It’s a double edged sword. And lately, I’ve been cutting myself up with it.

I am currently in the middle of two manuscripts. I want to have both of them finished, critiqued, proof-read, edited and published this year. My brain (and perhaps yours too) keeps saying, ‘ah, well, it’s only February’. But I was saying the same thing four weeks ago too, when it was only January, and I haven’t written a word on either manuscript since.

Another writer said to me that writer’s block is ‘the silly name for what happens when you want to do something else’. Well, thanks, Diana Simmonds. I agree with you, only I call it processing time. The problem is I’ve been processing and wanting to do something else for a little too long.

Last year I had a big spurt of writing during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I threw myself into the challenge of drafting at least 50,000 words during November. I thought it would be good, and for the 70,000 words I managed to pour out on a new manuscript it was very productive. Unfortunately, it was not good for the 15,000 words of a different work that I had already started, and which I had hoped to have finished and published by now.

And it wasn’t good for me. It left me depleted. It left me feeling guilty that I couldn’t write 50,000 words every month. It left me moribund.

In short, it left me wanting to do other things.

I’d love to say I’ve been researching instead, and perhaps I have. I spent last weekend dressed up as a World War I ambulance driver at a WWI re-enactment training camp. Given I write science fiction and Steampunk, I don’t think this qualifies as research, but who knows? Maybe after I finally get around to finishing the latest two manuscripts, I’ll write a WWI Aussie Girl Ambulance Driver story.

Vive le difference!

Vive le deadline! (with apologies to any French speakers.)

So, fellow Lesfic authors, what do you do when you don’t want to write?


J-L Heylen,

Author (Speculative Fiction, Science Fiction, Lesbian Fiction and Steampunk.)


J-L lives in the Blue Mountains near Sydney, Australia, and writes commentary, blogs, short stories and novels. She also helps manage lesfic down under, with fellow speculative fiction author Kate Genet.