Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Attack of the Perilous Page Count and the Deadlines of Doom

(or, No, I Do Not Think I'm Shel Silverstein)

I'm writing a book, and it seems I can't stop
It may not succeed, but it also can't flop
It can't be assessed, it can't be reviewed
For flat characters or for writing that's crude

I'm working on chapter three hundred and two
Right after the part with the crazed kangaroo
The treasure has yet to be found by the guy
With the Freudian fears and the patch on his eye

A publisher bought the whole thing on spec
I bet he now wishes he'd just stopped the check
Originally it was just s'posed to be
A treatise on life by the Caspian Sea

But since I got started, I can't seem to close
I keep rambling endlessly on with my prose
The plot just unravels, complications abound
And I think in truth there's no end to be found

For instance, I'm not sure the captain's alive
He's rumored to have been cut down with a scythe
But he was the one, least so far as I know
Who had the birth papers of Lady Gateux

And if I can't think of some way that he might
Have survived the storm on the Isle of Wight
Then Old Ragged Tom and his young urchin band
Are banished forever from Gondwanaland

Which means that Michel can never depose
The evil young prince who's stolen his clothes
The prince will at last get to marry Corinne
And sit on the throne, but I can't let him win!

The upshot is that there are more scenes in store
Plus desperate editor's calls to ignore
And what can I say to respond to his pleas?
This manuscript's now grown up way past my knees

I keep writing faster and faster to find
Some miracle to get me out of this bind
A birth or a death, a sword in a stone
Most anything now that my deadline is blown!

This epic must somehow be brought to an end
The way that it's sprawling I just can't defend
I've toyed with the cheats, but they all seem too pat
"Deus ex machina"—what the hell's that?

I could have it all be a mere endless dream
Like Winsor McKay and his Welsh rarebit fiend
Or a Joycean trick: just end where you start
But that admits there was no tale to impart

I have to decide, and I must do it soon
Ignore all the plot holes and wrap up by June
I must finish this, and with no backward glance
If I'm ever to get my final advance