A recent episode of the series Castle illustrated something all of the spouses of writers know—they are wed to peculiar people.
The premise for the program, currently in its seventh season, is that a mystery novelist accompanies homicide detectives in New York City on their investigations.
Despite his frequently outlandish theories, Richard Castle often contributes significantly to solving the crimes. His counterpart is Kate Beckett, the senior detective who leads the team.
The two of them recently wed, which led to the following exchange while they were on their honeymoon, which doubled as a homicide investigation at a frontier “dude ranch.”
Faced with complex evidence, Castle says, “That’s why we approach this as writers.”
Beckett responds with a comment representative of literary spouses. “So we procrastinate and we make things up?”
That strikes a bit close to home. The second element—making things up—can be construed by our nimble minds as an actual compliment. Yes, we do think creatively and out of the mundane box. Thank you very much.
On the other hand, the procrastination label . . . well, speaking for myself, it fits far too well.
Writing, after all, is not simple. Even poor writing requires effort. And, if one hopes to write well . . . it requires time, skill and practice.
Few can sit down at the keyboard and imperiously command their “muse” or inspiration to be at hand. This is true for all authors, including Christian writers who seek guidance from the Holy Spirit.
The simple fact is, however, that if we waited until we felt fully inspired, most of us would accomplish little.
In my own case, I sincerely attribute anything good that I might write to the Lord. The chaff comes from me. I won’t presume to guess what small percentage of the words are wheat, but I will confess that I am most productive when I discipline myself to write. And, this discipline typically involves a self-imposed deadline.
Thus the reason for the graphic at the head of the page. I have recognized in the fall of life, as I seek to pursue my writing avocation more seriously, that “The deadline is my Muse.”
Beckett knows very well that her fictional husband often requires a deadline to complete his novels.
My wife sees the same principle at work when I request her urgent proofreading of something I’ve waited too long to complete.
C.S. Lewis had ample experience with deadlines himself. And he knew well that even a required submission date could not guarantee literary production. In 1958 he wrote to his editor, Jocelyn Gibb, saying that he may, or may not, be able to provide a contribution to an upcoming edition of The Psalms as Poetry.
Dear Gibb, Thanks for the book, a very nice bit of work. I’ll try to re-read Miracles for mis-prints while I’m in Ireland, where my wife and I go tomorrow. When is deadline for your Fifty-Two? Not that I’m sure I can pump anything up anyway.
He did manage to provide a contribution, which he later included as part of the introductory chapter for Reflections on the Psalms.
I’m not certain whether Lewis wrote those pages simply because inspiration compelled him to . . . or if the issue deadline provided a little supplemental motivation. I suspect it was the latter.
To any writers out there who never require the encouragement of a deadline—consider yourself uniquely blessed!
To the masses who share my battle with the plague of procrastination, you have my sympathy. Still, after pausing for just a moment to commiserate, let’s get back to the pleasant labor of writing, and the thrill of “making things up.”