I JUST GOT BACK from my neighborhood UPS Store.
A Kingston 64 GB flash drive the size of a baby kitten’s tongue is on its way to an editor. That sliver of metal holds the last nine months of my work.
I beat the deadline by 3½ months, which I’ve heard is a bit abnormal for Bible reference book writers. But most Bible reference book writers didn’t start out as newspaper journalists. If I missed a deadline back then, the story didn’t run. By the next day it would have been old news.
I remember once after covering a fatal house fire in which some children were killed, I had rushed back to the newsroom just a few minutes before the deadline. As I started to write the story from my scribbled notes, the editor came over and stood behind me – reading as I typed. Then the publisher came.
The two top dogs of the newspaper were reading me over both of my shoulders just a few minutes before deadline. It was a wrenching story of a brother going back into a burning house to bring out his asthmatic brother; both boys died. I had just come from talking with the family. That’s what kept me so long.
I still remember thinking as I typed, “Concentrate. Concentrate.”
The editor and publisher weren’t being impolite. They were trying to decide where the story belonged in the paper. They put it on the front page. I can’t remember if it became the lead story for the day.
I do remember that after I submitted the story, the Associated Press picked it up.
I’ve taken deadlines seriously throughout my career. When I became an editor I had to deal with writers who often missed their deadlines. One of my favorite writers was habitually three months late on an annual project I edited. I felt that he was too good of a researcher and writer to fire, so I gave him a deadline three months ahead of the deadline I gave everyone else. It worked.
One writer was so late I had to fire him, send him a kill fee (partial payment as a courtesy), and then write his stuff myself. He called me to yell. Like that would change anything.
Several years later, after I moved on to become a full-time freelance writer, the organization I had left hired him as a lead editor.
I imagine the gentleman experienced some karma along the way.
In a few weeks I’ll be flying out to meet with the editor and the publishing team working on the book I just submitted. We’ll talk about it, I’m fairly sure. And I suspect we’ll talk about book ideas we’ve been brainstorming over the past few months.
With the book off my desk, you’d think I’d breathe a sigh of relief. Actually, a wave of worry washes over me every time I send a book on its way.
For one, the editor might not like what I’ve done. It has happened.
For another, I might not like what the editor does – or the designer. It has happened.
Every book’s a gamble. In this case, I’ve gambled nine months of my life. That’s how long it took me to write it.
We’ll see what happens. Life is an adventure, isn’t it?
For more about life as a Christian writer
- Day in the life: Bible reference writer
- My most persistent battle as a Christian writer
- What writers do when the book arrives
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