An actual conversation between my editor and me, circa early 2016.
Her, in a soft, reasonable voice: So, here’s how it will play out. I have the manuscript for book 1—yay—so we will get working on that. You’ll get revisions around March. You’ve said you’ll have book 2 to me in June…?
Me, lying like mad as I had NO idea what I was doing: Is June fast enough? Because I’m sure I can write it faster, if necessary.
Her, patiently: Ah, no. June’s fine. And mid-December for the third manuscript, you said? And of course you’ll have other stuff come along in the midst.
Me, as dork: Other… stuff?
Her: Oh you know, revisions, line edits, copy edits, publicity paperwork, page proofs, galleys, cover art packets. Just the usual.
Her, in this super kind voice, because I’m sure I wasn’t the first noob writer she’d ever had to talk off a ledge: We sometimes call it herding cats.
Okay, so that wasn’t exactly how it went, word-for-word, but the gist is accurate. I'd talked to a few veteran writers, and they'd all advised that it takes about six months to write a decent manuscript for a full-length (90k-word) book. So I'd gone into that conversation with all their collective assurance at my back.
And came out panicking.
I distinctly recall that phrase—herding cats. And the part about her being amazingly patient with me. And the part about me pretty much freaking out. I mean, not just during that call. I was freaking out essentially all of 2016.
In the end, we hit all the deadlines, more or less (see below regarding Christmas), and lo! Books occurred!
So… I sort of know how to schedule my time so I can write 2.5 books a year? Except I really don’t. That whole year was a blur. When the family went on vacation, they snorkeled and sight-saw, and I stayed in a hotel, writing. When we had Thanksgiving, I came out and ate bird meat, then went back to my room to write. At Christmas (because that mid-December deadline slid out to January) I ventured forth to exchange presents, and then locked myself in the guest room, writing like a crazy person.
At any rate, we all survived, but I have no idea how it happened. Neither do I have even a sniff of wisdom on this topic.
It was herding cats.
Which the MythBusters proved is impossible.
So the two books that came out and have my name on the covers? Are basically miracles.
Which is not to say I will not again attempt the impossible. Because crazy-making as it is? Creating books is also a gorgeous thrill ride of miracle-making cat-herding fun.