Monday, February 7, 2011

Beware the Ides (and Revisions) of March

March 14 seemed a long way off until today.  Although you were not thinking of it in specific terms, not until it came up in conversation, the middle of March even had a quality about it of lazy comfort, of reading your book a week for review purposes, catching up on the stack of London Times Book Reviews sitting on the table you brought over from Hot Springs Road, reading student papers, perhaps even sneaking in a few hours here and there on the novel.  You'd even had the romantic notion of waiting until the afternoon sun had warmed the bricks in your enclosed patio, inviting Sally out to sprawl on them, and sip through a large cup of coffee with her, enjoying your new surroundings, drinking in the neighborhood sounds.

If the past is a foreign country--iconic first line from L.P. Hartley's novel, The Go-between--the future is a genie in a bottle, struggling to get free of its prison in order to work its mischief, have its own moment, exert its power to excite, offend, disappoint, inspire, educate.  Until about 1 p.m., the most pressing things on your agenda were being here to meet the man from the phone company, then to receive your new number and service, then to return to a remarkable novel-in-the-works from an affable, grandmotherly sort who swears this is her first work.  March 14 was as far from your consciousness as even such matters as dinner plans, Sally's afternoon stroll, and checking the mail to see if the Auto Club had unscrewed its screw-up with your 2011 auto insurance; it was a non-issue.  Had someone mentioned March 14 to you, in as polite a manner as possible, you'd have been dismissive although, having recently forgotten a lunch engagement at a place you much admire in pursuit of peanut butter and plum jam, you might have thumbed through those pristine pages of your day book, just in case.  It is a minor offense in relative terms to forget a meeting; it becomes serious business to forget a meeting at the Via Maestra.

It is also somewhat of a truism that he or she who lives by the sword--etc, a metaphoric way expressing consequences if there ever was one.  To the extent you have been involved these years with publishing, you have indeed lived by the sword.  Even now, as you think of March 14, you cannot help thinking as well of February 11, which is the due date for this week's review, a book winking at you from the self-same table you mentioned in the first paragraph.  The wink is an invitation to read, an invitation you have avoided with the same purposefulness as a waiter,"too occupied" to notice your steady glance of inquiry.

March 14.

This note from your editor after having sent you her notes:  And all of that said, I have a deadline for you - March 14 - when I will need the finished manuscript for copyedit. Can do? (And, of course, if you want to send me one or more portions along the way, I'm up for it!)

March 14.


Storm Dweller said...

No pressure right?

Unknown said...

If only I could be so lucky.