Saturday, June 28, 2008

Walking the Line

By Keith Fisher

Her family was going fishing. Oh, how she wanted to go too. She pulled a floppy hat onto her youngest son and made sure he promised to stay away from the lake. She kissed her husband good-bye and turned to go back to her self-imposed exile. She wondered what she ever did to deserve such an understanding family.

When she sat in her chair, she glanced at the framed letter she’d placed on her desk after her first book was published. The hand-written note explained how the fan’s life had been changed after reading her book.

"That’s why I do it," she said. "That’s why I put up with deadlines."

How was your week? It seemed that no matter what I did, I was behind. I published my Monday blog late, barely finished my chapter before critique group, and published my Friday blog late too. Now here I am, It’s Saturday morning, and I’m late again. If I didn’t have deadlines, I might never get anything done.

Lately, I’ve been listening to some of my friends who submitted three chapters and then had to finish the book when the publisher wanted to see the rest. The deadline they imposed stretched their talent and helped them grow.

The point is all writers are going to have a deadline at one time or another in their career. It’s a given, but it can be a good thing. Deadlines take us out of our comfort zone. We emerge from the refiner’s fire, a better writer. We develop habits that will help us throughout our career.

For our edification I looked up deadline in Wikipedia. I copied and pasted the results. You might find it interesting:

The context of a due date originated in journalism, probably from an earlier usage in printing, representing a guideline marked on a plate for a printing press (inside which all content should appear). According to the Oxford English Dictionary, early usage refers simply to lines that do not move, such as one used in angling; slightly later American usage includes a boundary around a prison which prisoners must not cross

The second definition is the one I’m going with. Imagine the hallway outside of your writing space as the deadline. Now, if you step outside of your writing space, the guards will open fire with a machine gun. You’d be cut to ribbons.

Does that help? Remember the Berlin wall? In other places in East Germany it was a 12-15 feet high fence. On either side of the fence, they had cleared the vegetation for several yards. Even if you got over the fence, you still had to cross the demarcation, or deadline.

So as you struggle with writer’s block, imagine the deadline outside of your writing space. Plot your escape, make plans, then stop and realize you are drafting a story in your mind. "Aha," you say.

You see? Deadlines can be a good thing. If you’re currently laboring under a deadline let me say, I’m sorry. Then let me tell you, congratulations—you have cleared the fence—someone wants your work—you’re about to grow. When you stop to catch your breath in the trees, just beyond the cleared space, remember me. Now you’re free to walk and enjoy the journey. I will still be struggling to get over the deadline.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

1 comment:

Kimberly Job said...

So deadlines are a good thing, right? Thanks for the positive spin on it.