Oh my, that word sounds so ominous! Dead… line, it almost sounds like “you will hang at dawn”. It is so final, just like there is nothing beyond. A deadline is a noun and according to Dictionary.com, there are three meanings to this formidable noun: “(1) the time by which something must be finished or submitted; the latest time for finishing something: a five o'clock deadline; (2) a line or limit that must not be passed; (3) (formerly) a boundary around a military prison beyond which a prisoner could not venture without risk of being shot by the guards.”
No wonder the term strikes fear in students, masses of office workers watching the clock, and writers. Missing that deadline could mean a failing grade, an angry boss, or a lost contract. Sometimes life interferes with the assigned deadlines, (a party, an emergency, an illness) but most times that won’t make a lick of difference to the person waiting for that finished product. “The dog ate my homework” just won’t work anymore. It’s truly anxiety producing.
As a creative sort, otherwise known as a freelance writer, I’ve learned the importance of deadlines. In all my years of professional writing I have truly only missed one deadline, I honestly can’t remember the reason why, but it certainly didn’t go well. Now creative people are not usually known for routine or well-controlled organization, but when it comes to a deadline, oh boy! In addition to my paid writing gigs I sometimes offer my services in a volunteer situation, and I treat these voluntary pacts the same way I do my business dealings, as professionally as I can muster.
This past week was a challenge on a voluntary gig. I had to wait for input from another individual who does not live by the golden rule of YOU HAVE TO MAKE THE DEADLINE. I am not sure what her business is but I do know that she controls her hours and her work output. So I finally got her input and set about to editing it and then placing it in the item that was due for publication just four days later. And I sent it (via email) to the next step, the person in charge of distribution — only that person, unbeknown to me, had a family event and was away for the weekend and so my finished work sat unattended. As the date of distribution came without any progress I do admit feeling some (minor) palpitations.
Now this was a challenge. I had no way of getting this item out to the people who were promised its receipt. What to do???? Well to make a probably boring long story short, I did manage to get the item posted on a substitute site and the item was emailed from another source a day late. I had posted an apology to those waiting for it and promised delivery as soon as possible. In the end it was no harm no foul, folks appreciated being kept in the loop as such. Within three days of the original deadline everything was back to normal and I got to breathe a sigh of relief.
Of course now I am sitting here wondering, just where did my once fun-loving, free-wheeling self go? And when did I become so rigid? I don’t want to have an anal personality! I am NOT reserved and meticulously neat. A long, long time ago a teenage boyfriend once dedicated the song Wild Thing to me and everyone agreed it fit. I’m fun-loving and wild and unpredictable… or so I thought.
Sigh, is this what it means to be a grownup?