Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Dead Lines

A writer lives for deadlines . . . those publisher-imposed (or self-imposed) X's on the calendar that loom larger as the day approaches.  And a writer is always grateful to have a deadline to meet.  Without them, there's no work . . . and unless a writer can self-impose make-believe deadlines, the fire in the belly is often lacking.

Me?  I've got several deadlines.  And I'm grateful for all of them.  

My most pressing deadline each week is writing the weekend sermon.  This is a biggie, and I sometimes lose sleep thinking about this one.  But by the time Thursday rolls around, I'm hitting it head-on and taking notes, making an outline. 

I also have weekly deadlines now (thank God) for book reviews . . . books I must read and comment on.  These keep me up nights, too . . . though most of the time it's because I have hundreds of pages to read.  I usually sleep on a book after reading it, and write the review first thing in the morning over a cup of coffee.  

I also have monthly deadlines.  Some of these are imposed by publishers (columns, articles, essays, and now . . . even poems).  Gotta get the word out.  I also have self-imposed deadlines for books I'm writing (chapters, proposals, sometimes revisions).  Short stories and humor also make the cut, too.  

Staying on course with a deadline is essential.  Otherwise one's lines become dead lines.  The life found in writing is born of pressure, of time.  And it can also be born of leisure that uses time like a vacuum . . . thoughts and emotions sucked up into the void and then, once the clock begins to tick, are siphoned onto the page.  A writer needs them all. 

Recently, a friend asked me:  "I've got an idea for a story but I can't seem to get going on it. Any suggestions?"

Yeah, I have one:  You've got until this Friday to write a first draft . . . and if you don't do it by Friday, forget the story.  You've missed the deadline.  Otherwise, you'll never write it.

Well, it works for me.  I've been doing it every week since I was twelve years old.  These deadlines may kill me . . . but not if I kill the story first. 

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