by Mike MacLean
April has been very good to me.
First and foremost, my daughter Chloe came into the world. She is the best gift ever (even better than the Millennium Falcon I got for Christmas at age 8). The moment I set eyes on her, I understood why all those annoying parents go on and on about their precious children.
Much less monumental, yet still exciting, was an email I received a few weeks ago. A film producer read my work in the Best American Mystery Stories and wondered if I was interested in writing a screenplay. The film will be low budget, but the producer has been a fixture in the industry for years and the pay is generous. Without missing a beat, I said yes.
I’m trying not to get too excited. The contract isn’t finalized, and I’ve had more than one writing project slip through my fingers. But I have a good feeling this time. If everything works out, I’ll have a foot in Hollywood’s door. Well, maybe not a foot, but at least a toe. A big, fat, hairy Irish American toe.
And do you want to know the best part? It’s the deadlines.
The word itself is damn ominous. DEADLINE. As in LINE OF DEATH. As in, "If you don’t finish by a specific date, you’re a frickin’ dead man."
But to me, in this time of my life, the word is like music. Hardcore speed metal maybe–but music all the same.
People who catch the writing bug have a responsibility to write. For most of us rookies, this responsibility is purely internal. No one is waiting for our novel. We simply owe it to ourselves to write it. I’ve heard the internal voice many times. "I thought you wanted to be a writer? Then why are you on the sofa watching Seinfeld reruns? Get your ass to the keyboard and write, damn it!"
Unfortunately, when life becomes hectic and other responsibilities come into play, it’s far too easy to shut this voice out.
But when the responsibility to write is an external one–when money and deadlines are involved–that’s a whole new ballgame.
My family will ALWAYS come first. But these deadlines are a blessing. Already, they have forced me to plan ahead, to make time for writing, to focus. I will write the best screenplay I can possibly write, and I’ll finish it on time.
But the subject of deadlines brings to mind a question. Do deadlines hamper the imagination? Do they rush the creative process?
I for one am energized just knowing industry professionals are reading my work. And I can’t help but presume that this excitement will lead to greater creativity. But knowing every author is different, I wonder how others feel.
So how about it rati-readers? Are deadlines friends or foes?
I’ve one last point to make before I go. If you’ve read my posts in the past, you might have noticed that I NEVER give advice. We are fortunate here at Murderati to have many talented, published novelists as readers. Who am I to council them? But today, I want to give a suggestion to the newbies.
Get a website.
Even if your work has only been published online, get a website. This production company I mentioned googled my name, found my site, and contacted me via email. Who knows what would’ve happened if I wasn’t so easy to find. Would they have gone to great lengths to track me down, or would they have reached out to the next author?
And if you do publish online, include an email address in your bio. It astounds me when writers fail to do this. SPAM be damned. Include your email address and get a website. You never know who is out there reading your work.