Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Cracking under deadlines.

I admire the writer who can write when faced with any kind of emotion or situation. Pain, grief, lust, confusion, fear … dazedness. When there’s an earthquake or loss of life. And I tell writers to do this, too. Because even if you can’t write when you’re going through any of these emotions or situations, there’s a way around it if you need that way.

Of course if you can’t write, and don’t want to, nobody’s gonna put you down for it. You might put yourself down, but nobody else will. You can write if you want to, or not. It’s your choice.

But when it comes to being a writer with deadlines, you HAVE to write. No matter what you got going on, YOU CAN’T MISS YOUR DEADLINES. You just can’t. That is non-negotiable.

Myself, I’ve got three deadlines on the horizon: One for the end of the month and the other two the first week of March. And my editors rely on me to meet those deadlines.

The thing of it is, though, I had a MAJOR personal problem going on almost all month. It didn’t have anything to do with my writing life but everything to do with my personal life. I’ve had the good fortune of my online friends being there for me, to help me through it. And I may only know them through the Internet but they have proven to be such good friends who have really, really helped. I don’t think I could’ve gotten through this without them. Sure I had my mom and a couple of sisters to talk to in person, but these big-hearted souls opened their hearts and arms to me and it really helped me a lot.

Still, even when I was getting their support, advice and “shoulder to cry on” during this problem, I was still very torn and very upset. At the end of the day I’d be sitting on my bed, sniffling and wondering how I was going to put myself back together again. And it affected me on so deep a level that I could hardly write. At all. I did manage to write and submit an essay or two, but for the most part, I just couldn’t write as much as I used to. Not even in my blog, even when I HAD something to write about. I couldn’t do it.

But I knew I couldn’t let this continue, because my next deadline was right around the corner. I had people to interview and topics to research. Putting all of that off because I was feeling too depressed to do it just wasn’t an option for me.

So, this is where a bunch of catchphrases came in handy. The words “just do it” and “write on” repeated in my head, over and over. As well as the words, “Just write it.” The same advice Terry McMillan’s agent gave to her when she had doubts over her story. “Just write it.” So I dutifully sat down at the computer, barely feeling that familiar creative fire I normally have when I’m writing as I typed one interview question after another. And even when I didn’t care if there were any typos or if I spelled somebody’s name wrong, I checked, anyway. I had to. There’s always that “must remain professional” cloud hanging over me. I hated it, because I don’t like working when I’m forced to, but I told myself that I was only interviewing and researching. This was only the small nudges to get back into writing mode. I don’t know yet if it’s working, but at least my interviews got done.

I am not yet completely over my problem but I do know I’m slowly getting there. I’ve still managed to work towards meeting my deadlines and I’m hoping I’ll be able to write my articles with satisfaction as well. At least I’m not alone on this road to recovery. I am so grateful to all my friends for helping me get through this and for being there to talk to. A lot of them are writers, too, so maybe they’ll be able to give me the push I need to get my articles done come Deadline Week. At least by then some of those cracks I’ve endured will start showing some signs of healing.


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