Yesterday was all about the numbers. On Saturday I called in to Toppings in Ely to top up their stock of my novels (they’d sold out of “Canary” and had only one “Fatal Forgery” – hurrah!) and the manager said, “When can we expect the next one?” And I said, confident as anything, “16th October”. So that’s the third bookshop that has been given that deadline, which means there’s no escape.
As with so many projects, once you have set a deadline you need to work backwards from there to fit in all the tasks that lead to completion. So yesterday I printed out calendars for the next four months and put in all the stages to publication, to check that I can indeed achieve them in time. The cover designer is already booked, but perhaps rather later than is ideal, so I’ve emailed her to ask if she can move forward by a fortnight. My lovely beta reader has confirmed that he is not going on any round-the-world cruises or meditative retreats in August – thank you, Roy! And I have inspected the CreateSpace delivery estimates very closely to make sure that I will have time to order, receive and inspect both a paper proof copy and then my author copies for distribution to bookshops and libraries. All of which leaves only the small matter of, oh, you know, writing the book.
I have two more weeks of ordinary life – i.e. 2,000 words per week to be written – and then my 23-day writing retreat starts on 18th July. The plan is to write 2,000 words a day for the first ten days of that, and then spend the rest of the time re-reading, editing, altering, crying, stamping in frustration, etc. The good news is that there is indeed time to do all of this while still meeting that deadline of 16th October. The bad news is that I have actually got to do it. Last year, I rewarded myself every day of the retreat with a little walk in the Swiss mountains. Mountains are rather rare around Cambridge, so I’ll have to think of something else – perhaps a potter on my bike to Grantchester, or a mooch around the corridors of the University Library. The reward has to be both uplifting and not too distracting, as part of its purpose is to allow me to mull over progress so far and find solutions to plot problems. And not too fattening: with my cycle-mad husband away, and the daily word requirement entailing hours sitting on my bottom at a desk, there is every danger that I will end the retreat much larger than I started it.