by Robert Lopresti
I did something unusual this week. I signed a publisher's contract.
Well, technically I have signed a lot of such agreements over the years. Mostly for short stories, a few times for books. But this one feels different.
First of all, it's for nonfiction, a book related to my day job, not to the world of mysteries. But that's not the important difference.
You see, every contract I have signed in the past has been an agreement that a publisher would put out something I had written. This time I am agreeing to write something. In other words, I am committing myself to have a book that meets certain specification finished by a certain date.
That's right. I have a deadline.
I wrote a rather cranky piece many years ago about fellow authors who complain about the tyranny of deadlines. My point was that some of us would be thrilled if an editor was waiting for us
to write THE END. When you are having a bad day at what Rex Stout called the alphabet piano it is depressing to realize that no one but you gives a damn whether you keep pounding away or go outside and fly a kite.
Be careful what you wish for, because there is now a big publishing house at the other end of the country where, I like to imagine, an editor is standing with his arms folded, one foot tapping, watching the calendar pages slowly turn, and waiting for my masterpiece to arrive.
So, excuse me if I keep today's missive short. I have fifteen months to crank out 110,000 words. Wish me luck.