At the beginning of any book project, we put together a calendar with a timeline of all the stages, tasks, and processes that need to happen and the dates they need to be completed in order to keep to the production schedule. Ideally, all these things will happen as planned, in order, by their deadlines.
Of course, it doesn’t ever work that way.
I knew that since The Ghosts Who Travel with Me cites quite a few other works, we would need to get on the permissions train early. In fact, it was one of the first things we did once we had the manuscript in hand, way back in summer. We combed the manuscript for citations. Allison wrote letters. Some permissions were granted; others were not. The ones that were not were written out of the manuscript. We had one major set of permissions that Allison had been trying to obtain, to no avail, since October. If we couldn’t get them, significant portions of the manuscript would have to be rewritten. She contacted them again, and again, but we heard nothing. We were stressing out. I told Allison she’d better begin on the rewrites and decided that if we heard nothing by March 1st, we’d give up.
On February 28th, a letter came in saying that permission had been granted.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned working on this book is that you just never know what’s going to come up. You hope your original plan will work, but you have to have a back-up plan; you hope your back-up plan will go without a hitch, but you should probably have a back-up-back-up plan just in case; you think the back-up-back-up plan is going to be the way to go, and suddenly you’re back to the original plan. All you can do is enjoy the ride.