Let’s Talk with Debra H Goldstein

The Taxing Art of Writing
by Debra H. Goldstein

In any year but this one, today would be Tax Day. In every city, there would be long lines of cars containing people who barely slept last night waiting to drop their tax returns at the post office. Normally impatient people would restrain themselves knowing that their own procrastination resulted in the need to make sure their envelope bears today’s postmark.

For some of us, submission of a book or short story is a similar experience. We may know for months the date our manuscript is due or that a contest submission period ends, but we ignore the due date until hours before the witching hour. Why?

Is it a lack of motivation? No ideas? Too many ideas? I don’t think so. I believe it comes down to two things: a manifestation of the fear or flight response or life getting in the way. The latter is easy to define. It was more fun to watch a television show, read a book, or twiddle one’s thumbs. There was a family emergency, one didn’t feel well, or one needed to twiddle one’s thumbs. In my limited writing career, I’ve used all these excuses at some point in time, but it is the fear or flight response that better characterizes my writing style.

The fear or flight response is often defined as a physiological reaction to a perceived threat of danger or against one’s survival. It is characterized by intensified energy, heart racing, and other physical changes that one can’t control. Most importantly is an enhanced adrenalin response.

For me, having all the time in the world to get a project done is meaningless. I dawdle, procrastinate, and choose solitaire over the task at hand. It is only when I know that it is put up or shut up time that I come alive. That’s when I do some of my best work. Words flow into sentences that usually need little polishing. Okay, that’s when everything works perfectly.

The reality is that there are times no ideas come, and the contest topic and submission directions could be written in another language because they seem so foreign to me. I used to force myself to get something down on paper, but not anymore. Now, I let self-imposed due dates go by unless I feel I have something pertinent to say. The irony is that my work is improving. Because I write characters and scenes that make sense, the voice is lilting rather than stilted. Although I may fret over a sentence or paragraph, the overall work product is more solid and, in the end, less taxing on me to write and the reader to enjoy.

Three Treats Too ManyAs I write this blog, knowing I have thirty extra days to file my taxes, the IRS is not high on my list of priorities. Interacting with you is. That to me is a treat.

For a print or e-book copy of Three Treats Too Many (U.S. only), tell me, were your taxes filed by today or are you taking advantage of having until May 15th?

While you’re here, enter our Booklover’s Bench contest. It runs from April 1-18. We’re collecting entries for a book giveaway from our vault by one of our Booklover’s Bench authors. Click here to enter! Winner will be announced on April 19.

Comments

  1. And the Let’s Talk winner this time is Sarah Woodhouse. I’ve sent Sarah an email to let me know if she prefers a print or e-book copy of Three Treats Too Many. Thanks all for your comments. hope you leave more next time.. for a chance to win something else. Debra

  2. We finally got our taxes in–after having them completed weeks ago but then holding on to them for just one more review, and then one more, and then one more! It’s as bad as trying to decide when a story is ready to be sent off–or given one more edit.

  3. My taxes are done. As for writing, I try to follow a regular schedule. It’s the marketing where I slack off.

  4. Hubby did ours in February and we have already received our refund. He was able to start early this year which was a good thing since we had a few unexpectedly bad things come up in March.

  5. Debra J Pruss says

    No. My taxes were not filed today. They are completed, I am having printer issues so I cannot print them off to mail. Thank you for the opportunity.

  6. Sarah Woodhouse says

    I always file as early as possible. I hate having it hanging over my head so I just get them done. I love the covers on your books!

    • Thank you for your kind words about the covers of my books. I always try to get ours off early, too, but it seems to get to the deadline.(but they are in this year)

  7. I hate coming down to the last minute to get something done. With that said, I find it happens far more than I’d like. Taxes? Filed in March. Next book due April 24? Will be ready by April 20. Unless, of course, I decide it just needs one more review and then it could easily become a last minute thing!

  8. Sounds like a great book to read. Would love to read and review this book in print.
    I take the Gold in procrastination. I eventually get my projects done but I procrastinate big time.

  9. I do find I work best when I have a deadline, but taxes are something I want out of the way as soon as possible. Once all those 1099s arrive, everything gets sent off to the accountant.

  10. Love this post! And I haven’t even started my taxes and I have to have 60k words written by June 1…Lord, let the words kick in!

  11. Ha, I feel better that I’m not the only procrastinator. I have all my stuff put together except the final spreadsheet for my Etsy and eBay stores, and then I am finished. However, the hubster still needs to do his biz expenses. I am so glad we have a fabulous accountant. Not cheap, but it’s worth it to get things done right (and to get those deductions we don’t know we qualify for!).

  12. maggietoussaint says

    Our taxes are filed. My accountant is on the ball. One of the hardest parts of tax preparation is sorting through the writing business records of the preceding year. I try to put what event things are from but there are always a few that are challenging to sort into IRS approved categories. On another note, I have a super organized author friend that enters all of her info for taxes as it accrues during the year. Much as I hate doing it all at once, I would have endless stacks of paper on my side table if I called myself doing it as receipts and invoices came in.

  13. Emily Goehner says

    I am using the extension. My documents are with my preparer and I will file well before the new date. I had vacation time so chose to work my appointment in at that time and spare us both the rush.

  14. cherylhollon says

    I’m an Olympian in all procrastination events. I can’t help that, but I do break down big projects into smaller tasks that have deadlines that build up nicely to shorten the panic phase. Oddly, I see these as preparation — not actually the main work.