Thursday, July 25, 2013

Time to be Flexible

An IT person was once approached by a business administrator frustrated by the persistent refusal of IT to submit time estimates on the grounds that there was no basis on which to make them. The business administrator asked: "How long does it take you to write a line of code?"

If you substitute "line of poetry" or "sentence of story" in that sentence, you will be able to make much the same response as the IT person did, whether you've ever written a line of code yourself, or not.

Because it's all the same thing. Lines and sentences, paragraphs, books, coherent arguments - they're all an end product of a process of accumulation, analysis, experiment, test, refinement, reanalysis, revision, more accumulation, etc., that takes as long as it takes. You can, with deadlines and good work habits and concentration, move them along efficiently; but what you can't do is multiply the length of time it takes you to do one unit, multiply it by the other units, and come up with a realistic time estimate. Time estimates are always guesses based on your past experience, your sense of the complexity of the task relative to other similar tasks, and hope.

I've been writing this stupid one-line pitch more or less continuously since, I dunno, May? Maybe April? It rolls around in my head and whatever I do to it, it's still dreadful. I have the entire rest of the query put together. Only the damn pitch holds me up.

So I'm going to go start a major rewrite of the lesbian western (except I think it's more accurate to call it a transgender western). It'll take less time.

But I'll still be working on the pitch.

Maybe one day I'll wake up with a workable draft of it in my head. Probably about the time I hit a snag in the rewrite. If I'm lucky.

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