Take for instance the simple word, now. Three letters and pretty easy to define, but oh how this little word means different things in different environments. Allow me to explain.
In education ‘now’ means immediately, or in a worse case scenario, yesterday! As in… it’s already too late and we are moving on to the next issue, problem, or event. However, in publishing its meaning can fluctuate according to who is using the word–in other words, its context is somewhat fluid. If, as author, I use the word, it can mean I would love a response in two to three months or even up to a year. If however, a publisher uses it, it can mean only one of two things, drop everything now, or drop everything now.
It has taken me a little time to go from the ‘now’ of education to the ‘now’ of publishing. Having adjusted, I have to say that I prefer the ‘now’ of publishing as frustrating at times as that choice can be, it does tend to make sure things get dealt with and not just passed over, around or through. At the end of the day, the fluid ‘now’ will have created a tangible decision in the form of a book or an editorial change as opposed to the ‘now’ that I have left behind which was so often and tragically, ignored.
So the next time a fellow writer sends off his manuscript hoping for a response in the ‘now’ of six months, or a fellow author gets a call from his publisher asking him to peruse the changes and get back to them ‘now’, remember there is another ‘now’ out there and the one we writers deal with is by far the better of the two.