Archive for July, 2020


Revisiting The Office

I haven’t been watching a lot of TV or movies this summer, but I did find myself revisiting The Office (the American version). I rewatched the first season while John Krasinski was doing his “Some Good News” online show and had an Office reunion, but then got sidetracked and didn’t look at it again once I finished that season. But then recently I overheard a conversation in the grocery store in which a teenage girl was talking to a woman I believe was her aunt about her obsession with The Office. Then I saw an article about how popular it was for lockdown viewing. The episodes are short, so it’s perfect for when you just want to watch a little of something without sitting there for a whole movie. I got out my DVDs and got into season 2.

Something that struck me was how sweet it was at its core. It’s about a terrible workplace with a clueless boss and annoying coworkers, but there’s still so much kindness there, mostly because of Jim. He certainly can be a jerk at times, and some of his pranks on Dwight can be a bit mean, but he’s also the heart of the office, the one who can pull everyone together and make them feel good. He notices when others are sad or upset and does things to make them feel better. He intervenes before the office awards ceremony to keep the clueless boss from giving out prizes that poke at people’s sore points, and his Office Olympics manage to find a strength for everyone.

And even the annoying coworkers and clueless boss aren’t necessarily bad people. They generally aren’t acting out of malice. Michael is selfish and acts out of self-interest, but he’s not intentionally cruel. He really does love his employees and wants them to love him.

All of this is a big difference from the British version, which may be funnier in ways, but it got pretty mean and nasty. Their boss is truly toxic, not simply clueless and immature.

The other thing I’ve noticed while rewatching and looking at it from a writer’s perspective is that they do such a good job of showing vs. telling, and how you can use subtext to show something that’s different from what we’re being told. In the early seasons, it seems like they’re showing us that Jim is the true leader in the office while Michael is mismanaging his people. There’s an episode about Michael trying to make the workplace “fun” with jokes and antics that actually make everyone uncomfortable. He’s afraid work won’t be fun anymore if he can’t forward jokes full of sexual innuendo. That’s followed by the “Office Olympics” episode about Jim making a boring day at the office while the boss is out fun for everyone in a way that makes everyone feel good while they still end up getting their work done. Or there’s the episode about a fire alarm in which we see Michael rushing out of the building first and then getting obsessed with showing his business and leadership acumen to the temp who’s in business school juxtaposed with Jim pulling everyone together with games while they’re stuck outside. It’s clear that Jim has more leadership skills than the actual boss does, and the terrible corporate structure doesn’t seem able to find and nurture his talents. If this were a realistic workplace, that office would probably have been a revolving door, with a lot of turnover, and upper management would never have figured out that Michael was the problem. They’d have prioritized keeping him, I suppose because he really was decent at sales, without realizing how much he cost them.

Meanwhile, the romantic storyline at this point in the series is an excellent use of subtext. It’s clear to us (and to the makers of the fictional documentary being filmed about the office) that Jim and Pam are in love, but in the first couple of seasons, that’s entirely subtext. Neither of them says anything overtly about it. They claim they’re just friends. Pam is engaged to someone else. But in their interview segments they praise each other. We see that she lights up around Jim but seems to wilt around her fiance. We see him react to her interactions with her fiance by asking out someone else (a pre-famous Amy Adams). Then we see from their interests how right Jim and Pam seem to be for each other and how wrong they are for their respective significant others. All without a single word about their feelings for each other — at least, not an honest word. It’s all told with little clues, facial expressions, and body language. I want to take notes, or attempt to write these scenes as though I were writing them in a novel to see how I’d describe what they show us and see if I can maintain the same subtext in prose.

Sometimes the show gets a little stressful to watch because I had a boss very much like Michael. He even had the same first name and a very similar hairstyle. He was less childish, so he didn’t have the aura of innocence underlying Michael’s selfishness, but he definitely was the kind of boss who wanted to make work “fun” by his definition of fun, which was a frat party. If you didn’t want to get drunk and didn’t want to spend your leisure time partying with your coworkers, you weren’t going to fit in very well and weren’t going to move up within the company. He was also very big on “loyalty,” but that was a one-way street. I’ve been away from that job for more than twenty years, so it’s a little easier to take with more distance than it was when the show first aired.

Fortunately, I’ve never worked with a real Dwight.


Writing on Command

One thing I’ve been working on this summer is leveling up in my writing. I’ve identified some of my weaknesses, and I’m doing targeted work to strengthen those areas. One thing I’m doing is going through the books on writing I have, re-reading them, and actually doing the exercises.

That hasn’t gone all that well. The exercises tend to be something like “write a scene in which the viewpoint character feels this, using interior monologue to show it.” I generally hate writing exercises, those on-the-spot “write a paragraph about …” things. When I go to workshops and they do that sort of thing, I may pretend I’m writing, but I don’t actually do it. That makes me twitchy because I’m usually the sort of person who follows directions, and in classes I’ve generally been the person who’s eager to read my work for the class. I can’t do it for writing workshops, though. I may do some of the exercises at home, but the moment someone says, “take five minutes and write a paragraph about …” my mind goes blank and refuses to do it.

It’s not that I can’t write on the spot. I used to compete in journalism contests in high school, where they give you a topic and a list of facts, and you write a news article or feature story in half an hour (I went to regionals once for feature writing). When I was working in TV news, I was known for being able to write a story on the back of a news release in the car on the way back to the station, so that all I had to do was type up a script and give the video to the editor, and the story could go on the air within half an hour of me getting back to the station. So I don’t know why I can’t just spin something out when I have to do that sort of thing for fiction.

But then I realized the other night while I was doing one of those writing exercises and getting frustrated because my results were like something from a middle schooler’s creative writing essay that these sudden “write a scene about …” things don’t work in fiction. I can do it with journalism because I have the facts and the context I need for the story to be meaningful. Story comes from character, and you need to know who your characters are to be able to write about them, especially if you’re writing their emotions or their interior monologue. If you just write a scene about a random person feeling something, it’s meaningless unless you know who that person is. Fiction needs some kind of context. Who are these people? What kind of society are they in? I don’t have time to develop that well enough to be able to write about it in the time given for your typical writing exercise in a workshop, and it’s not a great use of my time at home. I could be writing something real.

I think those exercises get harder the more you know about writing and the deeper you want to go because you’re aware that you can’t do that without having a character. You get “exercise” writing instead of something that actually makes your writing better.

What I may do is work through the exercises as though I’m writing about one of the characters in a book I’m working on. That might give me some insight into them even while getting me to dig deeper into a particular area than I might normally do in the books these characters are in.


Never Bored

When you hear the same thing said about you by multiple people, I suppose it counts as an accurate assessment of your personality. The thing I hear is rather an odd one: “You’re never bored, are you?” I’m not entirely sure it’s always meant as a compliment, and I’ve heard it in a variety of settings, from a variety of people. And it’s actually true. I don’t even understand boredom. The closest I come is when there’s something I need to do that I don’t want to do, but I don’t want to let myself do anything fun instead because then I’ll never get around to it. I actually deliberately try to create a state of boredom to force myself into doing the thing I need to do, for lack of anything better to do. Sometimes I’m paralyzed by indecision about what, exactly, I want to do, but I don’t know that I ever really feel like there’s nothing to do.

I’m more likely to have way more things I want to do than I have time to do. There are books to read, stuff on TV to watch, musical instruments to play, music to listen to, things to sew or knit, gardening, writing, cooking, even housework and organizing. And that’s without leaving the house. Last weekend, I had a list of things I wanted to do and barely got to half of them.

I don’t even need stuff like books or a TV around to amuse myself. I can just sit and think and be entertained. I dream up stories in my head, make plans, analyze things, write mental essays. I can replay stories I’ve read or watched and spin off new ideas based on that. I actually like thinking so much that most of my efforts at meditating have failed because my brain sees just sitting still as playtime. I’ve learned to go to bed early to give myself time to lie and think before I go to sleep.

I was thinking about this when talking to friends last week. We went around the group on the Zoom call, talking about how we were coping with the lockdown. One friend mentioned that she was so bored that she’s been doing laundry every day just to have something to do. Then I started mentioning the list of things I’ve been doing and how I’ve been enjoying having time to do them all. That was when I heard it again: “You’re never bored, are you?” I’ve been reading a lot, listening to concerts on the classical radio station, writing, studying Norwegian, trying new recipes, watching theater online, organizing my house, and gardening. I haven’t gotten around to playing much music or singing, so my voice is out of shape. I’ve thought about doing more sewing, and I haven’t done a knitting project in months because I don’t have the yarn for what I want to do and I haven’t gone shopping for it.

I think I learned to amuse myself at an early age because I was an only child until I was six, and there weren’t a lot of other kids my age in the neighborhood. Then even after my brother was born, it was a few years because he was interesting to play with. I had all kinds of games I played alone, mostly involving making up stories and acting them out. Since we moved a lot, I was frequently the new kid, and there was always a phase before I made friends, so I had to work on my self-entertainment skills.

I don’t know if all this led to me being a writer, or if it was me having the aptitude for writing that made me able to cope like this. When you can make up stories, you don’t ever have to be bored.


So Many Books …

The writing revelations keep coming. After I realized that I had the wrong emotional arc for the heroine for this story and figured out what was going on with her, I realized that the opening scene of the book was totally wrong for the book. That then meant figuring out what the opening scene should be. I think I finally got that nailed down and wrote it this morning.

In a way, it’s annoying to be this many drafts into a book before I figured out it was wrong and I needed to re-do it, but it also feels really good to have figured it out and to see how much better the book is becoming, thanks to these changes.

I’d originally hoped to start publishing this series this summer, but then lots of things happened. Now I’m glad I held off because the books will be a lot better when I do get them out there. I’ve nailed down a lot of stuff that was uncertain and I have a better sense of the main selling points.

Meanwhile, another idea I’ve been developing has started really taking shape in my head, and that’s exciting. I actually dreamed about that story last night, and the dream gave me exactly the thing I needed to flesh out something about a character’s situation.

I’m getting into a “so many books, so little time” phase, but for writing, not reading. There are so many things I want to write that they sometimes collide in my head and create a logjam. Normally, that’s when I need to take a break and play with each of them to see which develops enough to move forward, but I know what my priorities are right now, so I’m shoving the other stuff aside to allow the one I’m focusing on to get through first. Then over the weekend I’ll play with the others enough to keep them from annoying me.


Another Epiphany

I’ve had yet another writing epiphany that builds on the last one I had, and it means still more work, but it’s work that will make things better.

Previously, I realized I hadn’t given my heroine an underlying desire that wasn’t driven by the main plot. I rewrote the first book to weave that in, and it really took the book up a notch.

Yesterday, I finished going through another draft of the second book in the series and figured it was just about done. Then I drafted some potential back-cover copy, and I realized that there was a plot element I highlighted in the cover copy that wasn’t actually in the book all that much. There’s a scene in which they talk about this being a potential danger, but nothing comes of it.

That means I need to fix the book. Yeah, it would be easier to rewrite the cover copy, but without this element, the book sounds less interesting. There are no stakes (there are some stakes in the book, but they only become clear when you know who the culprit is, so explaining what’s at stake would spoil the mystery). This morning, as I was brainstorming about how I should deal with all this, I realized that I had the wrong underlying emotional story for the heroine. It was the opposite of what it should have been, based on what I added to the previous book based on my last epiphany, and when I shifted the perspective with that in mind, it gave emotional stakes to the big-picture stakes. It was like all the light bulbs went off at once.

This means yet another rewrite, but if I don’t get the first couple of books in a series right, readers won’t keep up with the rest of the books. This is when I need to make the readers fall in love with the characters and want to read more about them, so I need to get the characterization and emotional stories right.

I really should have written the back-cover copy up front. That’s what I usually do because it’s a good way to test the plot and see what the selling points are. If you can’t make your story idea sound interesting in a few paragraphs, you have work to do, and the things you highlight in your sales copy should be things that play a prominent role in the book.

I guess it’s good that I keep learning and figuring out new things this far into my writing career.


Nutrition, Fashion, and a Fancy Lunch

One thing I learned from my checkup a couple of weeks ago is that I have to lower my cholesterol. Most of my numbers are pretty good, but my LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) is a bit higher than it should be. It’s balanced out some by a higher HDL (the “good” cholesterol) level, but my doctor still wants me to see what I can do with lifestyle adjustments.

Fortunately, I know all about what to do about that. My first job out of college was at a medical school. I was a writer and public information officer, which meant I wrote articles and news releases about the departments I covered and handled press inquiries relating to those departments. One of those departments during part of my time there was the Center for Human Nutrition, along with nutrition research in general and the clinical nutrition training program. Cholesterol was the biggest thing being discussed at that time. Two of our doctors had won the Nobel Prize for research relating to cholesterol. I’ve written so much stuff about that, and I have the information direct from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.

I even have a book about lowering cholesterol and thereby lowering heart attack risk, which I got at an event relating to the medical school, so I pulled it out and started reading it. That was when I realized how much things change and evolve in science and medicine. The copyright on this book was 1993, and I already could see things that are different now. For one thing, according to the scale in this book, I shouldn’t have to do anything. My LDL would have been well within normal parameters, but they’ve since changed the recommendations, so I now fall within the “nothing to be too alarmed about, but you should probably make some lifestyle changes so things don’t get worse” level. The recipes in the book tend to be pretty high in sugar, and they’ve found since then that high sugar is also a risk factor. It’s a trick to balance lower saturated fat and lower sugar and simple carbs. Avocados are a no-no in the book, and now they’re recommended. I think the views on eggs have also shifted since then.

But that’s how science works. They’re constantly adjusting and fine-tuning as they learn more. What they’re recommending one year may be different from what they recommend later. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t listen to scientists because they change their minds. In fact, you know you’re dealing with good scientists when they’re willing to change their thinking based on evidence.

This book definitely brought back memories because the event where I got it was an interesting one. Because research is so expensive, the school was always doing fundraising activities, which generally involved Dallas society, the wealthy people who mix charity with fun, so they’re always having balls and parties to raise money. I sometimes had to go to these events to write about them, which meant I’d end up at mansions with butlers answering the doorbell. I’d pull up to the valet that they had to use for guest parking in these neighborhoods in my Chevy Cavalier when everyone else had Mercedes, BMWs and Jaguars. I was in my very early 20s and making about $20,000 a year, so it was quite a contrast.

For the event where I got the book, I wasn’t yet assigned to the nutrition department, but the university president’s secretary called our office not long before lunchtime one day and said she needed some women to fill seats for a fundraising luncheon. I don’t know if someone had backed out or if they didn’t sell all the tickets, but they didn’t want empty seats. The next thing I know, I’m in the secretary’s car, being whisked off to this fancy luncheon full of Dallas society women. They stuck me in one of the empty seats, and when the lady sitting next to me introduced herself, I realized I was sitting with Margot Perot — wife of the infamous billionaire and sometime presidential candidate H. Ross. Then I learned that the entertainment for the luncheon was a Chanel fashion show. That was awkward because I was wearing a Chanel-style suit from Casual Corner. It wasn’t a true knockoff, no fake logo, or anything like that, but it was definitely that style. I was sitting there in my cheap imitation, surrounded by billionaires and millionaires who wore the real deal.

Models walked around the room while we ate our fancy salads and stopped at each table to describe their outfits and answer any questions. Fortunately, it was mostly resort wear, so no one was wearing the real deal version of my suit. And it turned out that Mrs. Perot was delightfully snarky and had the same attitude about that kind of fashion as I did, so next thing I know, the two of us are Statler and Waldorfing the fashion show. After we were through eating and looking at clothes I’d never be able to afford, there was a speaker. I don’t remember who it was, but it might have been one of the authors of this book, which was given out to each attendee, along with a Chanel goodie bag containing a full-size bottle of Chanel No. 5 perfume. That perfume alone probably doubled my earnings for that day.

Reading through this book took me back to that day, when I was very much a fish out of water, but one of the top fish was so kind and friendly that she put me at ease. I may have to find a way to put this experience in a book. In the meantime, I need to do a little more research into the current dietary recommendations. I think mostly I need to cut back on the amount of cheese I eat. One of my indulgences during lockdown has been finding the fancy cheeses in the Kroger cheese shop that have been marked down, and that’s generally what I have for lunch. I eat way more than the recommended serving size, I’m sure. I’m also trying to exercise more and at more intensity. I’m the kind of overachiever who wants to get a better “grade” on my next cholesterol test.


Read Recent Books

One of the best pieces of advice for those who are writing with the goal of publication — and this applies whether you’re hoping to get published by one of the major houses or you’re planning to self publish — is to read recent works in your field. It’s good to have a grounding in the classics, but to know where you stand in the market, you need to know what’s being published and what’s succeeding now.

The wisdom of this has become quite clear to me as I try to read my way through the to-be-read bookcase. I think of the 90s as “recent,” but for books, that seems to be ancient history. The pacing is so different then from what you’d find now. You can’t go for the old-school fantasy opening of the hero exploring the castle, then having a long conversation with the wizard about the history of the land.

Or there was the book I just read that’s about a journey. The goal of the journey is in the title of the book. The blurb on the back cover is all about how fantastic this journey will be. But we spend the first quarter of the book wondering if the hero is ever actually going to go anywhere. There are several chapters devoted to setting up why he would want to go on this journey, then once he decides to go, there are more chapters about whether or not he’ll be allowed to go. It’s not as though there’s much suspense to it. It’s there in the title that he’s going to go, so this feels like wasted space.

It would be like if in Raiders of the Lost Ark — a movie whose title tells us is going to be about going after the lost Ark — once Indy decided he needed to take on the quest, instead of him heading straight to Marian, we had to sit through a bunch of faculty meetings to decide if the university was going to let him go. We know he’s going to go. It’s there in the title. You’re just delaying getting to the good part.

The only reason to have that kind of delay and a question as to whether the main character is going to get to do the thing that’s in the title of the story is if you’re raising the stakes and forcing the character to really commit by having the authorities say he can’t go so that he then has to buck authority and go on his own — if Indy has to be so committed to the quest that when the university refuses to grant him leave, he quits, which means he has to succeed because he has nothing to come back to. But having that kind of delay only for him to be told yes instead of just letting him go really slows down the story. I suspect today’s editors would have cut several scenes.

I think there are also different standards today regarding racism and sexism. You can’t get away with having every female character be a courtesan who’s naked most of the time and who exists as a reward for a hero, and you can’t have all the characters with darker skin be some kind of savage or primitive people (and, for a bonus, they all have the kind of hospitality that’s “here, as our guests, enjoy our women).

That doesn’t mean you can’t read older books, but to get a sense for what you need to do with your book in order to succeed, you need to read recent works by people who are around the same publishing level as you. If this would be your first published work, read the first publications by new authors. Reading recent books by bestselling authors won’t tell you much because they’ve earned a lot of leeway. See what it takes to break in now. If you’re planning to self-publish, read the more successful self-published books in your category.

writing, TV

Flawed Characters

I had yet another writing epiphany while watching TV this weekend.

One of the things I struggle with is writing flawed characters. Readers tend to like my characters, but I don’t usually have big character growth arcs of the sort that are necessary to sell books to publishers these days, especially for younger readers. The last couple of projects I’ve sent to my agent, that was one of her biggest complaints, that my characters pretty much have it together at the beginning and don’t have much room to grow. They don’t make a lot of mistakes. When I look at most of my books, my character arcs are mostly about gaining confidence and learning to step out and take action, which works, but I seem to have gone to that well too many times, and it’s not very dramatic.

The other night, I was watching Beecham House on PBS. It’s a frustrating series because it’s beautifully filmed and full of potentially interesting stories, but it’s pretty dull. The series centers around an Englishman in India in the late 1700s who’s trying to build trade relationships outside the East India Company, and he’s competing with the French. He’s a widower with an infant son who’s the heir to a maharaja, and he has to protect the baby from the evil uncle who wants to kill him. His mother has shown up in India with a young woman as her traveling companion who she wants to marry her son (who is so not interested), and his younger brother is a soldier for the East India Company who’s embraced the local culture (in more ways than one), but who is kind of a wastrel. The older brother makes for a pretty dull hero because he’s practically perfect (just a bit dense in trusting the wrong person, but then he doesn’t have the advantage of having watched enough British television to know that guy is always the villain).

But then in the latest episode, the older brother has been framed and arrested, and the younger brother has to step up and deal with everything. I found myself thinking that the series would have worked better if the younger brother had been the main character, the slacker party boy who suddenly has to deal with everything when his practically perfect brother gets in trouble.

And that was when I had my “duh!” realization. The guy who has lessons to learn makes for a more interesting hero. He’s still smart and capable, and he actually figures out that the untrustworthy guy can’t be trusted, but he also has to make some big moral choices and go way out of his comfort zone. And I still like him, even though he isn’t perfect.

It is a bit easier to do this sort of thing on a TV show because the actor can make a big difference. I was prone to like the younger brother because he’s played by an actor I liked in something else, where he played the nice, smart guy, but he’s also got a lot of personal charisma. In print, you have to create that for readers without being able to rely on an attractive actor who may bring positive baggage to the role. Still, the hero who has to step up and go outside his comfort zone and overcome his own flaws to succeed makes for a better story. When I’m struggling with this in the future, I can remember this vivid example.

I keep having these breakthroughs while watching TV, so maybe I should go back to doing more of that. I’ve just about stopped lately, but everything I have watched has given me a big writing realization.


Short Stuff

Earlier this year, I mentioned the Kickstarter for the short story collection I have a story in. The book is now available, for those who didn’t participate in the Kickstarter. There’s more info here.

It’s a collection of stories involving the fae, from various traditions. I’d done a ton of reading about that in preparation for writing my Fairy Tale books, mostly about the traditions and folklore of the British Isles. But when it came time to write this story after I was invited to participate in the anthology, I went in a different direction. I’d been reading some Scandinavian folklore, and I ended up using a bit from Iceland. They have such strong traditions about the fae that, even now, they’ll reroute planned road construction if it might interfere with an area believed to be a fairy habitat.

But the actual seed of the story was something non-magical that happened to me. I’ll tell that story in my next newsletter. If you’re not already a subscriber, you can sign up here. I only send about one e-mail a month, plus I’ll send out reminders when there’s a new book.

I don’t write a lot of short stories. I tend to get novel-sized ideas, so all my attempts at short stories either fizzle out, grow out of control, or they get to a certain point and then frantically wrap up before they get too long. But I’m thinking that I may try to write them more often. I recently read a book about the history of Pixar, and one of the things mentioned was why they keep doing the short films even though they don’t really bring in much revenue. They’re mostly something to show ahead of the main feature as a bonus, and they win a lot of awards, but if they didn’t make those shorts, it wouldn’t cut any income from the bottom line. But they use the shorts as a relatively low-cost (in both time and money) way to experiment and learn. It’s a way for new writers and directors to practice making a film without being thrown in head-first in a full-length feature, so it creates a pipeline of talent. It’s also a way to play with technology or concepts.

I might be able to use short pieces in a similar way — to try out new ideas, techniques, or approaches, maybe touch on some of my literary “bucket list” items. Before I started writing Enchanted, Inc., I’d never written a novel in first-person narration, but I had written some fan fiction that way, just to try it. I could use short stories for that sort of thing. Then, as a bonus, if any of them sell, then that’s money, and their publication serves as promotion. Or I could create a collection of my own, use them in the newsletter, etc.

I’ll have to keep that in mind for something to do between books.

But first, I have to wrap up the books I’m working on.

Ice Cream Days

As part of my attempt to change my attitude about hot weather (I hate it), I decided that I would “celebrate” 100-degree days by having ice cream only on those days — according to the official temperature at the airport. I even bought a pint, since at that time they were forecasting a 100-degree day.

Quite abruptly, the weather pattern changed, and we went through a spell of below-normal temperatures and rain. I’m not complaining.

Now, though, they’re forecasting 100+ temperatures from tomorrow through Tuesday, so unless there’s an unexpected twist, I’ll get my ice cream. I’ve been thinking about what I’ll do. I got vanilla so I’d have more options. I could make a fudge sauce, or I could make a strawberry sundae, or just have it with fruit. I figure the more I dwell on it and look forward to it, the less likely we are to actually hit 100, though I guess it’s not much of a victory if it’s only 99, since it’s still hot and I don’t get ice cream.

But there is hope not too far away. Last time I was in Target, they were setting up the school supply display, and this week’s ad included a sale on school supplies. Fall is coming! We just have to get through the rest of July and August … and most of September.

I’m telling myself I really don’t need more notebooks. I don’t need to shop the back-to-school sales. Really.

But I am about to head to the library to pick up all the stuff I had on hold. Then I can hunker down in my cave and wait out the heat.

This is a little later than average for our first 100-degree day, so that’s some consolation. Last year we didn’t get one until late in July, but then the hot weather lingered a lot longer before abruptly turning cold, so there was no real fall. We went from 90-degree weather straight to a freeze before the end of October. I know it doesn’t really work this way, but maybe having our summer on schedule will mean it ends on time.