What NBJ is alluding to is that if you can't get your head around the procedural aspects of the litigation process, you ARE committing legal suicide.
Right now your learning curve is really, really steep. If you are a fast learn of complex interrelationships, you may have a chance. The novice has the odds stacked against him with this sort of time crunch, and if he adds going at it pro se to the equation, the reality is that it is virutally impossible.
Time is your enemy right now, and there are is almost no way you can kick the can down the road. Your biggest worry is avoiding summary judgment...a tough, tough thing to do when they have all of the evidence.
As to your questions:
1. Maybe the court will read it before, maybe not. Maybe the court won't even read it at all. Depends on the court you are in and how willing the judge is to cut the defendant some slack.
2. Read the RCPs for your district. They tell you what the process is. Some courts schedule on their own, others make the litigants do it. One size does not fit all, here.
2a. Your CMRRR to them doesn't require them to drop the case even though that is what you would like to happen. That's not the way civil litigation works. Your motion to for arbitration and a judge's favorable ruling will likely only stay the case pending arbitration. A stay or a dismissal won't happen until the motion is heard.
3. Yes and no. Most pleadings need to be submitted to the court and the opposition within X number of days of hearing so that they have the opportunity to object. Read the RCPs.
Again, your learning curve is about as steep as it can get. If you want to do this yourself, expect to do day upon day upon day of reading.
We are not against you helping yourself. We ARE, however, against you shooting yourself in the foot.
You've got the gun locked and loaded.