I had a particularly disagreeable conversation with my publisher last night.
The Company wants me to deliver my next book in time for Christmas.
“Christmas?” I whined, “that’s six months ahead of schedule!”
I always end up whining when I talk with my publisher. That, or crying.
“So what?” she said. “We need it by then, it’s as simple as that. If you must know the writer whose book was supposed to go out for Christmas shot himself yesterday…”
“What?” I interupted. “Shot himself? Who?”
“… and we need a replacement in a hurry. Never mind who it was. It was nobody you knew.”
That was probably true. They keep us writers apart as much as possible, to stop us getting together and plotting for better conditions or more money. I made a mental note to check later for writer obituaries on the internet.
“The Company expects you to step up and earn all that money they pay you, Mr Pliers.”
She didn’t usually call me Mr anything. That made me suspicious.
“What money?” I asked. “I haven’t been paid for my last book yet!”
“That’s a matter for the courts to decide,” she reminded me agreeably.
I mumbled something nasty about lawyers under my breath.
“I wish you’d learn to write a better first draft,” she complained. “We can hardly make any sense of it out here!” Rewrites on my latest manuscript go poorly, she added, and the pressure’s on her to show immediate improvement.
The Company doesn’t tolerate failure of any kind, she reminded me.
“That’s not my problem,” I answered agreeably. “Besides, now’s your chance to step up and earn all that money the Company’s paying you.”
She laughed and it was like acid pouring into my ears.
“Touché,” she said softly.
According to Company financial analyzers, after the first draft I as a writer am not fiscally viable, being too slow, so the Company doesn’t allow me to rewrite my own material anymore, preferring instead for me to get on with the next book while they trust rewriting to cost-effective interning teenage ghostwriters, and the eggheads downstairs who are trying to come up with a computer program to replace me.
That, and the remote possibility that one of the hundreds of chimpanzees they have locked in the basement with Apple computers will actually come up with a novel worthy of Rusty Pliers.
Ha! That’s a laugh!
So far, all those damned monkeys have come up with is a couple of short stories slightly reminiscent of Haruki Murakami.
“Maybe the Company should hire better rewrite people,” I suggested. “Or smarter chimps.”
That only made her angry. She started to tear me a new one.
So I hung up on her.
This is no time for listening to her insults, I figured. I’ve got to get back to work.
I’ve got a lot to do if I’m going to finish my first draft in time for Christmas.