January 21st, 2016

On erosion of lifestyle

I've only got two big deadlines to go this month. Three if things work out well. If the third doesn't come this month it will come when I have less time and will be a significant burden, but I have no control over that.

I don't have that much control over most of my deadlines. I negotiated a few extra weeks for one, because everyone (all kinds of people in all kinds of places) went away over the holiday period and expected to come back to my work on their desk (except for the one who agreed to my work on his desk before he went and who hasn't got back to me yet, which has resulted in the absence of one expected deadline).

The number of people who are asking for me to work while they're on leave is a new thing. There's always been someone who has a deadline in the new year, but mostly the holiday period is mine, to catch up on research with or to write significant amounts of fiction. I did the research, but the deadlines hit my writing time and I've written nothing for the other novel for five weeks. I don't know when I'll do the 30,000 words I'd planned. I doubt I'll finish my menopausal alien novel this year, given this. But I did not expect that everyone would generously sacrifice my time while they went on leave! I offered my time up to a couple of publishers, for we're working on various things and I knew the shape of the year in advance. But everyone has piled on board. Some of the demands were quite small: a few hundred words here, or a quick edit there. But today I added them up and it was a lot of work.

All I've missed out is work on one novel (and I did the monthly work for the other) because I'm Jewish and have no money to go away and etc. Much etc. It's not a big deal, because I work this time of year anyhow. This is why it didn't hit me until now. The practice of sending out all the work then giving the end of the holidays as the due date is a nasty one for people who aren't single, Jewish, without gainful employment (no teaching until February) and so forth. it's also new in the sheer amount of work people are sending out. I had 28 December deadlines, 6 January deadlines, 18 January deadlines and 31 January deadlines. I met most of them because I'm not on holiday in January. Even I (while not on holiday) was unable to meet all the 6 January ones, so I had to do a bit of negotiation.

The publishers I asked about rearranging were mostly good. And I can see why they're working this way. Turnover with edits and set-up of proofs and everything else is unbelievably quick with this new system.

I can't help thinking, however, that the new system threatens to do to the non-Jewish world what has been done unto me for the last 25 years: to replace any chance at a significant break. I used to take my break in two sections(over Passover and over Rosh Hashanah/Yom Kippur) and the exigencies of everyone else have diminished that so that now I invite a few friends round to celebrate with me on critical evenings. It's not a good thing to lose those breaks, even if you do nothing with them but hang around at home and dream of DIY.

I don't like this. I don't want this to happen to others. Protect your holidays. Be not like me! Exert the power of the cultural majority (be hegemonious!), and, if you're one of the ones who sets these deadlines, please seriously think of returning to the "We don't expect anything until February" rule.