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  • Writer's pictureLee Murray

8 hours to deadline…

This question is lifted from author Sahar Sabati's informative Ask an Author series, which ran from 2015-2016 and included responses and reflections from English-speaking authors from around the globe. Since I'm often asked these questions by readers, I have republished my answers here with Sahar's kind permission.

Hours to deadline? Heaps of time. I haul out the vacuum, bake brownies, and skype my daughter at university. With six hours to go, I open the document and slap my palm to my forehead: I’ve misread the guidelines. Instead of just a few hours, the work will require several days of effort, plus a seriously good edit from my seriously scary crit team. I close the document. Nooo! It’s too hard. I take a well-deserved coffee break. Eat a Tim Tam. By now, I’m positive I will not make the deadline. I wail in despair. It is mission impossible, no less. I email my crit group saying, “I can’t do this. It’s too hard,” and they respond with encouraging, “Grow a backbone,” comments. Opening the document, I dither for another hour, writing and deleting words. A member of the scary crit group phones to check on my progress. More wailing. The person at the other end chastises me to the tune of The Little Engine Who Could. Afterwards, I attack the document again. It’s quiet. My family has gone to bed. All alone, I am drowning in misery. I stare at the screen and write a single word. And another. A sentence. Delete half of it. Write another. The sentence becomes a paragraph. A paragraph becomes a page. I’m warming up. Suddenly, words I couldn’t prise out of my brain an hour ago, apparate onto the page. With fifteen minutes to spare, I do a final spell check, add page numbers, and press SEND, releasing the completed piece into the ether. Done! No, wait. I check the document. Sigh. I knew it. Two typos.

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