Thursday, 14 January 2021

Deadlines by Lynne Benton

 Every month, as the 14th approaches, I become increasingly concerned that I won’t think of anything to write about, especially when I read what others have written in the preceding days.  Other people’s blogs always seem to be so very erudite/knowledgeable/entertaining/full of excellent ideas etc., that all my ideas seem very dull or trivial in comparison.  I had thought of writing about New Year Resolutions, only I notice that the blog on the 11th was about New Year Resolutions, so I can’t do that one! 

So instead I’ve decided to write about Deadlines - a subject that’s always going to be topical, whether they are deadlines for getting your book finished, or sent out, or a deadline for fulfilling some other obligation, or for doing the dreaded Tax Return before 31 January (yes, that comes next, after I’ve finished and posted this blog!) 

So – first, getting my book finished.  Yes, done, read by various Beta Readers and adjusted accordingly.  Ready to get it out there as soon as possible, especially since having discovered that there is a wonderful window of opportunity in 2022 for which my book would be just right!  (My book is set in 1953, at the time of the Queen’s coronation, and I now discover that in 2022 there are to be great celebrations of her Platinum Jubilee – which could give my book an excellent hook, if someone would publish it at the right moment!  Fingers crossed for that one! And it’s another deadline, of course…!)

Anyway, in order to get my book out to a mainstream publisher, I could do with finding a new agent to represent me – my previous agent, who was lovely, had to give up the agency some years ago due to ill health, and since then I’ve been going it alone.  Self-publishing is fine, except that unless you're already famous, sales are not great!  Obviously it wasn’t sensible to start the hunt for a new agent just before Christmas, so it meant starting the ball rolling in January…

As anyone who has tried agent-seeking lately will know, all agents want you to send them different things: one wants the first three chapters, one wants the first 30 pages, another wants the first 3000 words, while yet another wants to see the whole manuscript.  And they all want synopses of different lengths too – anything from one paragraph to two pages!  Of course it’s important to find the right person to represent you, and obviously you can’t just send out exactly the same letter to several agents at once, but it all takes rather a long time.  As I’m finding.  But although I’ve applied to three so far, I aim to approach two more before the end of the month.  Yes, a deadline, even if it’s one of my own making!

I’m also kept very busy planning, writing, recording and sending off my monthly Music programme to Local Radio, as well as reading the next part of my book for Local Radio which goes out every week.  These both have to be sent a week before they’re due to be broadcast.  Thankfully I’ve just sent off the music programme which goes out next Sunday, which is a relief!  I reckon each one takes me three days to put together: one day to come up with a theme, think of the music to go with it and find the relevant CDs (from several rather large piles…!), one day to play the pieces I’ve chosen and time them – some CDs, irritatingly, fail to tell you how long a piece is, which is vital to know when you’re planning an hour’s programme! – and another day to write the script, including doing whatever research is needed, time it and then do all the technical stuff: recording the script, followed by all the CD tracks, and then sending them all to the radio station.  Then the tech guy adds the signature tune and puts all the pieces of music in the order I want (the computer arranges them differently, which I can’t do anything about, so I have to send him a list of the correct order with the recording!) Then he sends it back to me to check that it’s all okay.  Listening to it takes another hour, but I’m glad he does, because then I know it will go out all right on the day.

When my husband does his music programme, at least he does all the choosing, timing and writing the script, but I still do all the technical stuff: the recording of script and music tracks and sending them all to the radio station, and then checking them afterwards.  So I reckon when he’s doing it, it still takes me at least one day, if not two, to do my bit.

And when it comes to reading the next part of my book for radio, the first thing I have to do is write a “The Story so far” piece to read at the beginning.  Then I have to record that, followed by the next two chapters of the book (the whole episode takes about half-an hour, but I like to check it’s recorded all right before sending it off to the tech guy, who again adds the signature tune and sends it back to me to check.)  And that happens every week, a week before it goes out on air.

So although we are both still enjoying putting together our music programmes, and I’m still enjoying reading my book on air, it’s beginning to feel a bit relentless!   Deadlines are always looming.

Not to mention totally unrelated deadlines due to the ongoing Covid restrictions – working out when I want my next supermarket delivery, finding a slot and planning the food I’m going to need, what needs using up first etc. etc.  (I know most people are facing this one at the moment, but it all takes time, and if you need to add/subtract to your order you have to meet another deadline, ie 12.00 the day before the delivery is due!  Which I forgot about this week until 1.30, when it was too late to add things!)

So even if some of my deadlines are of my own making, they are still deadlines and I fully intend to meet them all, no matter what.  Especially the deadline for my Tax Return.  And for this blog!



Mystica said...

And here was I thinking my life is complicated!
Best of luck.

Lynne Benton said...

Thanks, Mystica! Your comment has really cheered me up!

Sue Purkiss said...

I think you're amazing, doing all that work for the radio programmes! Is it possible to post links somewhere to them?

Lynne Benton said...

Thanks, Sue - they're online at West Wilts Radio. I'll try to post a link too though!

Penny Dolan said...

You really are amazing, Lynne. I am impressed by your energy and by your timetabling skills.

Lynne Benton said...

Thanks, Penny - energy levels a bit low at the moment, but I hope they will improve!