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There are deadlines, and there are deadlines. All of us face an ultimate deadline we (sadly or happily, depending on your point of view) cannot foretell. If you stick around long enough, this deadline begins to weigh heavily on your conscience. Wags call this the “mid-life crisis,” and I suppose there is a crisis involved. The crisis concerns not only bearing up under the weight of that irrevocable, looming deadline but also in summoning your powers for an end game designed to make restitution for time squandered and, to the fullest extent possible, to execute the plan for your contribution, your legacy.

So it is that, a little over a year away from fifty, I sense that deadline approaching. I mean, under the very best of circumstances what have I got? Twenty years? Twenty-five? As a wise man said, “Time to stop dicking around.” If I’m to leave a legacy in letters, it’s high time I get a move on. This is why I’ve imposed on myself a deadline to wrap up Housebreaking the Muse, a novel that has stewed and simmered far too long–15 years more or less.

I don’t think it worthwhile to detail here the reasons for this glacial progress. Suffice it to say the demands of earning a living, not to mention a character predisposed to procrastination and indulgence in life’s little pleasures, conspired to distract me from a sustained effort on what William Burroughs called “The Job.”

So now, the deadline. Because Muse is haunted by the figure of the Dada poet, gigolo, addict, and suicide, Jacques Rigaut, I’ve chosen the anniversary of JR’s suicide, November 5, as the deadline for this work. Fitting, I think, as one of my reasons for writing Muse is to flesh out the character of the shadowy regaut. This leaves me 310 days (2012 being a leap year) to complete the task.

I suspect that I’ll devote much of Maximum Fiction for the coming year to chronicling my progress.

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