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Publishing a book requires meeting a series of deadlines. One looms for me this Wednesday for my next novel, Sour Notes. While pressing to hit that target, I also must keep up my other obligations, such as the Monday Musing.
So we visit our young friend, Ian. I introduced him a few weeks ago in Snow Day. He bears absolutely no resemblance to a young me. Nor a current me. Nor does this story have anything to do with my looming deadlines or my incredible talent of procrastination. None. Zip. Nada.
Ian gazed out his bedroom window. The bright sunshine sparkled off the leaves and flowers exploding to life on the trees. Birds flitted from branch to branch, singing the song of an early spring. Squirrels scampered across the lawn that would soon need mowing, another task Dad insisted Ian was old enough to handle.
Most tauntingly, a cluster of friends rode skateboards and bicycles, laughing and playing in the warm air. He longed to join them, but he was shackled to the confines of the prison of his room.
A knock at his door drew his attention. His mother stuck her head in his door and asked, “So how goes the homework?”
He had done his best to sound convincing, but the raised eyebrows on her face suggested doubts. “You have a book report due in Mrs. Fauntleroy’s class tomorrow, right?”
“Have you finished reading the book?”
Now young Ian knew better than to lie, but an artful reply might fail to disclose a few details and still hew close enough to the facts to be considered the truth. “A few pages to go, but I’m close.”
His mother crossed her arms and focused the mom stare on him. “If you haven’t finished the book, how are you going to complete the report?”
Those eyes bored into his soul and stirred a tinge of remorse. He was committed now, though, and had to plunge into the shark-infested waters. With a hand he fought to keep steady, he tapped the composition book on his desk. “I’ve been writing as I go.”
She wavered. His hope rose. The doubt remained in her eyes, but he could tell she wanted to believe. “May I read it tomorrow morning at breakfast before you go to school?”
How do you decline in a moment like this? To say no would be to admit how far behind he was. To say yes, though, risked her following through the next morning.
And she would, he realized with sinking certainty.
“Of course, Mom. I’d let you read it now, but it’s not quite done. I want to polish it for you.”
Her lips pursed as his heart pounded. Would she call his bluff and demand to see the draft?
But her eyes softened and she nodded. “At breakfast, then. Don’t stay up too late.”
She shut the door and he plopped into the chair, sighing in relief. When Mrs. Fauntleroy assigned the novel a month ago, she’d warned that they needed to pace themselves. A few chapters a night. Chip away.
He’d meant to do so. Every night, he’d opened the book and stared at its pages.
But outdoors tempted. And video games. And texting with friends. And teasing his little sister.
Now he was behind.
But he had a night. A full twelve hours. How hard could it be? Read a book. Scribble some notes. It wasn’t the first time he’d been in such a pickle.
He clenched his fist and focused on the task. Time to get serious.
He opened the composition book. At the top of the blank page was the title of the book and the author’s name. He had, as he had said, been writing as he went. He just hadn’t made it very far.
It was now or never. He opened the book to the bookmark, shocked to see how many pages came after. He ran his finger down the page and read:
Call me Ishmael. Some years ago—never mind how long precisely—having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world.
Enjoy the Story? Try a Novel
If you enjoyed today’s musing, please consider reading one of my novels. Each standalone book tells the story of big lives in a small town, ordinary people facing extraordinary challenges.
September 2023 Reader Survey Question
Last Month’s Reader Survey Question
When I asked you when you believe spring begins, I offered three choices, but you came back with more varied answers.
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Gratuitous Dog Photo: Landon’s Opinion
Landon expresses his opinion about deadlines. Or Mondays. Or following rules. Or much of anything else that doesn’t let Landon be Landon.
Until Next Monday
May you have a productive week. Or at least not get far behind. Or, if you must, have a whole lot of fun because it’s going to make the next week harder.
See you next Monday.
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