I recently sent a note of apology to someone who had requested information from me. I had been extremely remiss with this person–not sending her info on a timely basis, and forgetting to respond to emails. In my apology note, I lamely mentioned that I’d just emerged from a writing deadline, which to me is the equivalent of a free-diver trying to surface from deep water without blacking out.
“Oh, I didn’t realize you were on a deadline, no problem,” she replied in her gracious response, as if the deadline totally excused my flakiness.
This poor woman has to deal with writers all the time, I realized then. She’s used to us.
Then I started thinking about all my other deadline behaviors that could be considered annoying, or even strange, by family and friends. My crazy-writer deadline behaviors include:
The Big Tune-out
It’s not that I deliberately don’t listen to people (Okay, sometimes it is deliberate), but I frequently tune them out. This mostly happens when I’m on a deadline, which means it happens a lot. I might even respond to someone during a conversation, but not remember it later. It’s kind of like brain on auto-pilot.
To Kill a Magpie
When I’m out and about with my husband, I frequently dive for a pen and write detailed notes about our surroundings: the full moon hovering between two palm trees at night, a bag lady sitting in a bus shelter, the timbre of silverware clatter–I take notes about anything I can use later in my writing. Inevitably, I have left my notepad at home, so I drag home notes scribbled on scraps of things: a napkin, a flyer, even the back of a business card. My husband must think he lives with a magpie.
Hair on Fire
It’s predictable: Six weeks before any deadline, I go on a tear. This means that I’m a) Constantly hunched over the laptop, muttering, b) Setting the alarm for 4 a.m., then groaning my way to wakefulness over the course of several Snooze cycles, and c) Bounding out of bed at odd hours of the night to tap out some problem-solving idea that struck me.
I do not talk very much during this time. And when I do, it’s not pleasant.
So there it is. I could go on, but the length of the list is starting to make me feel bad about myself. I would like to feel that I’m not alone in my crazy-writer deadline syndromes. Have you any to share?
Take the crazy-writer quiz
Just found a fun quiz that tells you what kind of writer you are. (You have to be logged into Twitter) I’m Tom Wolfe, per the quiz.