Have you noticed a certain airborne charge? A certain franticity? A wibbliness of spirit in your colleagues & loved ones? Well, don’t panic. It’s just Deadline Day. And we all know what that means.
In Arsenal Town, and in the poachers’ huts of Queens Park and all through the City of Manchester United, men and women are perusing their manuscripts, editing a novel, looking for dead lines.
Dead lines? What dead lines?
My every idea is silver snowflake.
This is not the case. Every writer, however experienced, writes a dead line or two on occasion. Maybe you were tired. Maybe you listened to Capital FM in the shower, and the whining, repetitive, super-funky cadences of a pop song had caught their burrs on your brain-fur, causing you to pack a single paragraph with 12 five-word sentences. Maybe you couldn’t be arsed. Maybe you just wrote any old guff in the gap. “I’ll go back,” you said. Maybe you never went back.
Dead lines exist. Luckily, so does Deadline Day.
Why do they need to go?
Readers will forgive me my sins.
Deadline Day is about going back through your work and singing it to yourself – does the tune hold? Or does it burp sometimes? If your manuscript burps, you may have a dead line. What’s more, if it burps for you, it will surely burp for your reader, and there is nothing more likely to throw a friendly reader out of the world of your creation than a burp in the ear. You might be happy to burp in your own ear, but you should not burp in the ear of your reader. It’s impolite. Stop it.
But how? How can I ever be rid of them?
Dead lines haunt the living.
Sometimes it can feel like every sentence is a playing card in a tremulous house – one fat-fingered intervention and it’ll all come tumbling down. But don’t panic. Your #DeadlineDay brain is the same brain as the brain that wrote the dead line. Nothing has changed about these words just because they are now on the page. You just made a mistake before, is all. Plus, lines die all the time! That thing about the axolotl you thought was really resonant? It’s not! It’s guff! Get rid of it! No worries! If you see a dead line, get rid of it right now. Because you’re a better writer now than when you started – and you’ll be betterer again tomorrow.