I’d like to think I am good with deadlines. I’m not perfect, not by a long mile, as I have had a habit, stretching back to my school homework, of leaving things to the last minute. But given the last minute inevitable panic, I generally get things in on time. Even when I need an extension to my deadline it’s usually by a day or so.
Project Octopus’ original deadlines were testament to this. I got slightly manic trying to do everything I needed to make that deadline, but yet even though it was 10 weeks away and everything had suddenly become “should have been done yesterday” I was getting it done. Thankfully, that’s now been pushed back and I can breathe a little easier.
Even with personal projects, whilst I don’t tend to set myself a deadline if one isn’t needed, I tend to have a rolling one based on how the project is going so far.
However, I’ve been working on a non-fiction article and any semblance of deadlines got blown away early on. The plan was for a single article, involving several authors. Authors were rounded up and dutifully answered my questions, and that’s where my problems began.
You see, I’ve done articles like this before. I did an article on the re-emergence of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles about a decade ago for a magazine and consider that article to be one of the best I’ve ever written. It’s an easy read with comments from lots of people and it really flows.
My problem with this article was that the responses I got back were so good, I couldn’t fit them within the word limit constraints. So I did something drastic… I started splitting them up into five articles based on the questions I asked. This caused its own problems. Splitting some of them seemed to instinctively work, others just felt like all the authors were saying the same thing whilst ignoring what the person before them had said (in reality they had answered independently).
I also didn’t want to format the article as a straight Q&A. I have nothing against that format, but I wanted to do a little more, weaving answers into a conversation. That meant splitting out responses and ensuring that by doing so, context wasn’t lost.
And so what should have been a quickly knocked together article, turned into this behemoth whose shadow has hung over me for the whole of August. I’m not lieing when I say I must have put 30 hours into this thing over the last month. This from the person who once helped out an editor in a crisis and delivered a 3000 word article with accompanying pictures in three hours. I like to think that in a crisis I can write copy fast. Admittedly this is not the most helpful skill during a zombie apocalypse but you don’t get to pick and choose these things.
I finally finished the five articles yesterday and whilst I’m proud of how they turned out and how I didn’t compromise on the quality I was shooting for, I am greatly relieved that the ordeal is over.
They get sent off today but already I have a new GPStracklog article to write as well as a couple of fiction projects that have been sidelined to give these articles time.
I better get on with it before I blow another deadline.