Deadlines. We all encounter them from time to time, some more often than others. It seems like the clock is always ticking on something in my life, especially when it comes to writing. I’m sure you have the same problem.
August 1 is the deadline for a short story that I’m having a devil of a time writing. It’s for the publication The First Line. The contest is that they give you the first line of the story and you take it wherever you want to go from there. Full rules can be found at the site, but that’s the gist of their publication. This time around the first line is Frank Rooney had been the manager of the Shop & Save for thirty-eight years and he wasn’t retiring anytime soon.
Now, I’ve been in retail for a little over twenty years, so you’d think that this first line would be a cinch for me. I mean, ideas should be rolling through me and I should have the problem of having too many stories for the prompt. In fact, I’ve had many ideas for this story. All of them sucked. They’re good in concept but I’m not able to execute them. I’ve spent considerable time munching on peanut M&Ms and hacking away at my keyboard, but so far nothing useful has happened. Try as I might, I can’t seem to force creativity.
Which makes me wonder how all those professional writers do it, and gives me a fresh appreciation for them. Take the writers for Doctor Who. Every week they have to come up with something new for the Doctor to do, some new challenge to overcome, possibly even a new nemesis to best. I realize there’s a team there, and creativity can be easier if you’ve got multiple idea generators (i.e., brains) working together, but it’s still got to be exhausting to work on deadlines like that. I guess that’s why I’m an amateur writer and they get paid for their work. My deadline is just at a month away and I’m bellyaching on a blog about it.
But wait, there’s more. I have more than one deadline in my guise as author. I’ve got one for September 1 that’s got a theme of “Community” attached. I’ve dusted off a story I wrote a couple of years ago and am re-working it now, sending it through the critiquing process to get fresh eyes on it. And there’s this other deadline of July 16 for the August/September issue of Pilcrow and Dagger that’s coming up. That story’s written too, a fresh new story, one I’m pretty excited about. I’ve given it to my critiquing partners and am polishing it up based on their feedback, but at least that one’s “done.” We’ll just hope it’s good enough to be picked.
I wish I could wrap all this up in a neat philosophical bow about how all this gibberish is germane to your life, but if I get started on deadlines we’ll be here all day while I start at the concept of time as a linear absolute and we go on from there to explore thoughts about time as a non-absolute and then work on how deadlines either exist or not depending on your view of time. For our purposes, deadlines exist in a linear time framework, and if you’ve got a story for the theme “that’s going to leave a mark” then you, too, have a July 16 deadline at Pilcrow and Dagger.
Better get cracking.
If there’s a moral for this blog entry, one take away point, one summation, it’s this (and it’s my father’s favorite expression I think) – Press on.