Our Mission Statement:

The mission of Pens & Pages Writers Guild is to facilitate and encourage writers of all genres, to share resources and tips about the writing process and, most of all, to provide a positive and productive forum that will encourage and support each writer in his or her creative endeavors.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Driven To Distraction By Deadlines

Oh Gosh! Is it my turn to write the blog? Did I miss the deadline? We were just talking about meeting deadlines (or not) earlier this week as we gathered around the kitchen table at GrandMary's place for our evening meeting of Pens & Pages.

That very descriptive word "deadline" was born in the POW camps of the Civil War. Just a few feet inside the outer fence surrounding the camp, a line was drawn. When a prisoner stepped a foot or even just a toe across that line, the guards patrolling the outer fence assumed this prisoner was making a break for it and he was immediately shot dead, no questions asked. Thus the dreaded DEADLINE.

I don't know at what point the term morphed into being the final moment in time when something must be completed. As writers, we are now most familiar with it being the time after which a written document can no longer be accepted for publication. In the old newspaper days of melted lead type and linotype operators, it was when the backshop foreman in his ink blackened apron would stick his head through the door to the font office and yell, "Sorry Kiddo! I had to kill that story you turned in late. Not enough room anyway." So the story you had worked so hard to finish was just as dead as the fellow trying to escape from the POW camp.

At Monday's P & P meeting we pondered why our best writing is most often produced when we're working against a deadline, hurrying to finish up in time to turn it in. We had weeks to prepare but dawdled away the time, while the germ of an idea sort of tippy-toed around in the nether regions of our brains. Then with a final burst of creative energy, a lot of stress, a lot of self-reproach, a lot of coffee or something stronger --- Voila! The masterpiece!

Why do we put ourselves through this? Does anyone know a good psychologist who would attend our P & P meetings and offer free therapy for one and all?


Solard said...

You may have been dreading the post, but I for one found it entertaining, informative and a good read! Glad you made your 'deadline', Granny!


DJ said...

Carol,I loved the post. It seems I learn something new every time I have the privilege. of reading your pieces. Thanks.