The Unbearable Slowness of Stuff (9/6/09)

Posted in News

I am not, by birth, German. However, important parts of me may well be. My wife is German, for example, and that’s about as important a part as it gets. I can’t narrow down my German-ness to anything else specific (my left knee, right elbow and pancreas, for example, might or might not be German). But I can give you some generalities. You can tell what traits a country is particularly good at by looking at what words we nick off them[1]. Angst, for example. Schadenfreude. Schlepping[2]. What I have is Ordnung.

Ordnung. We haven’t really nicked Ordnung, but we should. I used to think this was a place where someone called Alice lived, but now I know better. It means having everything in its proper place. it means being rather a bit anal and having a touch of  OCD about you, which, I’m afraid, is me. I am going to introduce everyone to Ordnung. Why? So I can batter the publishing industry around the head with it. Why? Because there’s one thing no one warns you about in this authoring malarkey, and that’s just how slowly some things happen. Now traditionally, the image here is of authors swanning around, missing deadlines left right and centre while gaunt twitching editors with an increasing array of nervous ticks run around trying to persuade them to, you know, write words. Yeah, bash some authors with some Ordnung, that should improve matters, shouldn’t it? George RR, he could do with some Ordnung, right? Well no, I’m not going to advocate that, because creative genius has to trump Ordnung and I’m on the author side of the fence and if it takes a lifetime to write a masterpiece than it takes a lifetime, right? (Although the Ordnung gremlins can’t help but mutter amongst themselves that the occasional status report at least wouldn’t go amiss).

So here I was, fresh-faced author, newly minted, freshly ordained, keen and eager and desperate to impress (yes, this was a long time ago – I’m starting on the path to bitter and twisted now), determined not to fall into this trap. Write hard, I thought to myself. Write long and hard and your Ordnung shall save you… What no one bothers to mention, until you find it out for yourself, is that it-takes-as-long-as-it-takes cuts both ways.

So in the spirit of keeping a diary of how this whole process works, let me be the first to say that sometimes it does. Now deals can be done very quickly and frequently are. But man, sometimes it seems to take forever to ratify things. Months and months and months. And then just when you’ve given up, BOOM! A cheque arrives for no apparent reason[3].

This is no real complaint – I’m not successful enough to actually need the money yet – but while I have a shrewd idea what to expect, I really still don’t have a clue when to expect it. Maybe I’m just dim, but if you’re financially dependent on advance cheques and royalties, I imagine it’s a total nightmare

Ordnung. Wir muessen mehr Ordnung haben, bitte.

[1] Yes, yes, the French probably did have a weekend of their own. They probably even went out for picnics too.

[2] Believe it or not, the Germans schlepp very well.

[3] Talk to your agent. Your agent knows everything. Your agent will, for example, know that this cheque is in fact for the polish audio rights that you sold back in the seventies for something you forgot you even wrote. Or something like that.