Friday, November 18, 2011

Yoda Made Me Do It




I have over-committed myself. Again. I have a bad habit of doing that. And I freely and readily admit I do it to myself. Given the open-ended question of, "When can you do this?" I will always choose a date that is sooner rather than later. I will look at a calendar, figure out what a reasonable date would be and then subtract a week. Or a month. Why? Why do I do it?

Deadlines are my friends. I thrive with a deadline. I thrive even better if it's a deadline I have committed to. I have missed many anthology deadlines over the past year, but I was the only one who even knew I was planning to submit my work. Deadlines that I've committed myself to (verbally or in writing) are another story. I've only missed one of those in the past year-- and it was one of my OGG columns. (Sorry again, Grippers.)

Actually, that's a lie. I've missed another deadline. A book proposal I was supposed to deliver around mid-September. Because of the baby, I was told to take a few more weeks if I needed them. Um... I'm still in the window of a few more weeks, right?? Sigh.

And now I have a few more deadlines that are looming--deadlines I've committed to and selected the dates for and made assurances I could deliver--and somehow, come hell or high water or sleepless babies, I will find a way to deliver, dammit. According to Yoda, there is no "try." There is "do" and "do not." I never choose "do not."

I hate missing deadlines, but even more than that, I hate letting people down. I hate the idea that someone somewhere (perhaps on this very blog) is saying, "Oh, that Kristina, she's such a flake. You can't count on her." That has to be a fate worse than...well, if not death, it's certainly a fate worse than a lot of things in my book. (And not the book that is several weeks past due.)

Despite the reputation writers have for being flaky free spirits who are at the mercy of their muses and miss deadlines willy nilly, most writers I know are pretty responsible people. There are a few divas in the mix, of course, but most of us know that meeting deadlines requires discipline and we act accordingly. But of course that doesn't always work and life--or other deadlines--get in the way. Then we beat ourselves up and call ourselves names (waving at Charlotte, here...) and lament our failings. And then... we dust off our egos and make another commitment and next time (hopefully), we get the job done.

So here I sit, over committed to too many projects and knowing that I will likely fail to deliver on at least one of them. Dilemma. I can ask for extensions on deadlines, of course. It's accepted and even expected in some cases. (I try not to play the baby card, I swear.) I could simply let one or more people know that I need more time to make my deadlines or I could give up on at least one project and make the deadlines for the others. Or I can just buckle down, nose to the grindstone, full steam ahead. Blood, sweat and tears dedication. Etc. , etc., etc.

Guess which one I'll choose? I'll choose "do," of course. It is the only way I know. And maybe that's why I'm a writer. Maybe if I didn't do it this way-- if I didn't commit myself to things that seem impossible-- I would never have sold the first story. Maybe. Only Yoda knows for sure.

7 comments:

  1. Master Yoda also said, "Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose."

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  2. Master Yoda never had two babies, an overflowing laundry hamper, and an ice storm to deal with. I suggest he cut you some slack. And you should too.

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  3. I agree, Kristina. Two children are not an excuse ("the baby card").

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  4. Hi Kristina!

    I have this theory that intense people - or at least people with intense eyes - thrive or maybe are even a bit addicted to stress. Stress can get those endorphins boiling as much as things that feel good. I wonder if that can be how a person - yourself maybe - finds themselves with so many deadlines. Or it maybe, what i suspect is the case, that you just have a literary passion going on and a lot of emotional energy. Some of us, myself in the past, thrive on being consumed by something, or someone we love. By having a powerful heat sink to dump that emotional and creative energy. Maybe that's why vampires are so sexy.

    I'm wondering, considering I look totally lackadaisical compared to most folks here, do you find when you have a deadline, even if you don;t have a story idea, that the preassure of the deadline makes the idea appear? MAybe that would work for me

    Garce

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  5. Lest my point be obscured - I also believe that having a great passion and devoting yourself to it no matter how it turns out is a great way to live. So follow that zen.

    Garce

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  6. Thanks for the comments! And the support! :-)

    And thank you, Garce, for your kind words. I couldn't be self-disciplined if I didn't have passion for writing-- I'm inherently lazy so I need to be worked up in order to get anything done. :-) Deadlines do inspire ideas for me. If left to my own devices, I'll work on a bunch of different projects and never finish any of them-- but a deadline gives me focus.

    I like being consumed, I think.

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  7. Kristina,

    I definitely identify with you about commitments. I have to be REALLY careful what I sign up for, because once I've done that, I'll kill myself before I'll renege.

    Personally, deadlines don't inspire my creativity - they stifle it.

    I also like your noting that most authors ARE responsible about deadlines. The public image of the author persona is way off, in so many ways.

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