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January 03, 2005

Hard-Earned Wisdom

Today's nugget of writing knowledge:

December is a terrible time to have a book deadline. And that's all I'm going to say about that.

Updating here will likely be sporadic for a couple of weeks.

Posted by john at January 3, 2005 12:04 PM

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Comments

Justin Anderson | January 3, 2005 12:27 PM

Heh. More to the point, December is a terrible time to have any sort of deadline. I'm just a grunt programmer, but somehow in my 10 years of working I've learned this lesson -- yet it still seems to freshly surprise management every year....

Jim Winter | January 3, 2005 01:08 PM

Also sucks for finishing drafts, getting proofs out of your publisher, and generally getting anything business related done. Hell, I made even less progress at the ol' day job than I did writing. And I think I got out 2000 words total in December.

Devin Ganger | January 3, 2005 01:15 PM

Not only is December an awful month for deadlines, let alone book deadlines, let alone technical books for O'Reilly and Associates, but it is a terrible month to get sick in. My family and I were sick from Christmas Eve through -- well, yesterday (the 2nd) was really the first that we were feeling truly better. Try writing a chapter on MS Exchange when your chest feels like its going to implode and it is Christmas. No fun.
At least I got that chapter done last night and was able to e-mail it to my editor. The feeling of freedom!

Charlie Stross | January 3, 2005 02:16 PM

Au contraire: I always make a point of trying to finish a book between Christmas day and New Year's Eve/Hogmanay!


(I've got a bee in my bonnet about pseudo-compulsory pseudo-religious holidays, so I usually take a big chunk of January off to recover, but what else is there to do in December, when dawn is around 10am and it starts getting dark by 4pm?)


The problems come when my editors play their usual lets-clear-our-desks trick and shovel all their copy-edited manuscripts and typeset galleys out to the poor authors for checking over the holiday season. Last year I got hit by three books simultaneously. That was more fun than a barrel of rabid monkeys, I can tell you.

Tripp | January 3, 2005 04:08 PM

And now, in this global community, we are finding out that the entire nation of China essentially shuts down for two weeks at Chinese New Years!

Why, that is very interesting coming from the group that declined to renew my contract in 2005 so they could get it done cheaper in China, but now want me cover for my new Chinese compadres, who are finally getting a couple weeks to go visit their families.

Um, I don't think so.

How many years was I on call over Xmas and New Years, which in this workaholic US is not much longer than one week?

Twenty six years, that is how many. Do you know I actually did get a service call on 12/31/1999 that had nothing to do with a Y2K bug?

Anonymous | January 3, 2005 04:35 PM

Justin said:

"December is a terrible time to have any sort of deadline. I'm just a grunt programmer, but somehow in my 10 years of working I've learned this lesson -- yet it still seems to freshly surprise management every year...."


I hear you loud and clear on that one. I'm still reeling from the December 24th rollout I performed.

Soni | January 4, 2005 01:16 AM

Errggghh. Feeling y'all on this one.

Self-imposed deadline, but never-the-less still in the final throws of a website re-org and rebuild. Spent Christmas holiday exploring options for changing over my static site to a dynamic one, without paying for professional help - somewhere in this chick body are a few decidedly male genes that make me constitutionally incapable of paying for anything I can conceivably learn to do myself. (This is also the driving force behind my being in my second year of auto mechanics. Tomorrow I gotta trace down a brake fluid leak in the old Dakota. Yummy.)

Decided against a complicated content management system and instead settled for learning the bare basics of php so that I can change my menu and header/footer without editing 60 pages at a go. And I moved up to external CSS, too, also a new skill. I'm feeling all insufferably macho-geeky now, despite the paucity of the actual tech difficulty involved. Hey, it's new to me, and it all managed to get through and stick despite the heavy layering of eggnog and hard cider (and the swollen section of my brain where OMW landed in a heap over the weekend)

Now I've just gotta port over the old copy (what I'm saving of it) and write the rest. Hopefully the new version can go up by the end of this month, so that the keyboard marks on my forehead can have some time to fade before it's time for auto mech graduation pics.

drood | January 4, 2005 12:28 PM

I had a January 2nd book deadline. Two words: Never. Again.

Charlie Stross | January 5, 2005 06:27 AM

I had a January 2nd book deadline. Two words: Never. Again.

You think.

All my book deadlines except for one publisher (who shall remain nameless) fall on January 1st. The trick is to mentally move the deadline forward a month to December 1st, and hand the sucker in a month early.

(A few years of life as a hardscrabble freelance journalist should cure you of any tendency to schedule work right down to the wire -- if it ain't in on time you don't get paid -- and I heartily recommend it to anyone with, ahem, scheduling problems.)

The publisher whose deadlines fall in July is the publisher who always sends me galley proofs to check over Christmas (with a helpful two-week turnaround time and trans-Atlantic mail delays to factor into the equation).

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