Ah, what a change two and a half years can bring! On October 5, 2010, here at Fantasy Author’s Handbook, I posted a, unabashed plea for deadlines: WANTED: ONE DEADLINE, ANY CONDITION in which, among other things, I bemoaned my own inability to stick to a self-imposed deadline.

Truth be told, those self-imposed deadlines remain difficult for me to stick to, though I have written and even published quite a bit of material in the thirty months since writing that post. But the biggest difference is the success—and all the hard work that comes with it—that my then-fledgling business has brought in in the meantime.

So here’s something that may sound like an excuse, but isn’t (kinda).

This week’s post will be a bit shorter than others because I’m just too damn busy!

Though (the unseasonably warm and sunny weather aside) it still seems like Western Washington outside my window, here at my desk I feel as though I’ve become a permanent resident of Deadline Hell.

This is a locale, believe me, with which I have considerable experience.

But the past few weeks, and the few weeks ahead of me, have been a bit off the charts, at least in my post-WotC life.

I can’t be specific with many of these projects, if any, but let’s see where I am right now:

  • I’m working with Marc Miller on a line of Traveller novels and have five finished manuscripts currently on my hard drive, calling out for story and copy edits. I have another that has been edited and is waiting for notes and approval from Marc.
  • I have two other manuscripts from individual clients waiting for the same level of edit, and which are now officially overdue by any reasonable stretch.
  • I have two and a half proofreads to finish. The remaining half of the first one is due tomorrow, and I will finish it today. The other two are both due on the 13th.
  • I continue to work on the WotC pronunciation project—and that reminds me, I owe one of the narrators an email.
  • I have another client with some material I need to read in preparation for a phone call Friday.
  • Tomorrow and Thursday I’ll be getting writing assignments in from my Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction students that I’ll need to read and comment on by class time (6:30 pm on Thursday) and I’ll need to make sure my notes and PowerPoint are ready for class, too.
  • I’m putting together another online tutorial for my friends at Writer’s Digest University that needs to be ready to record in a couple weeks.
  • And then there’s the big secret writing project which may not be past the publisher’s deadline yet but it’s definitely past mine and why does this keep getting knocked off the to do list? That needs to be finished!
  • And I have another really fun novella to write for a friend who’s putting together a cool series I’m excited to be a part of.
  • And I have that dark fantasy work in progress that I’m making no progress on because I’m not working on it.

And all this with normal modern life stuff: bills, college financial aid documents to get in, spring lawn and garden care, and other stuff.



Is this what I was asking for that sunny October morning in 2010?

As a matter of fact, yes, it is. This is precisely what I asked for and truth be told, I’m loving every minute of it.

I’m busy, and I love being busy. I’m hitting my deadlines(ish), and doing a wide variety of interesting work, and meeting new people all the time, and widening my net in terms of genre, category, and role.

If October 2010 Phil could see me now, he’d be pretty happy, then tell me, “Get to work!”

Okay, okay, I’m going . . .


—Philip Athans



About Philip Athans

Philip Athans is the New York Times best-selling author of Annihilation and a dozen other books including The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Writing Monsters. His blog, Fantasy Author’s Handbook, ( is updated every Tuesday, and you can follow him on Twitter @PhilAthans.
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