Monday, October 29, 2012

Deadlines


Adding a deadline to a story injects a muscular dramatic component characters (and writers) ignore at their peril.

Deadline personified is the loud talker at every restaurant and coffee shop, the one relative at a family gathering who has made a point of favoring volubility over correctness, and we won’t even mention politeness.

A deadline means time has run out.  A decision must be made, an assignment turned in, a payment made, an option renewed.  Deadline is a long, pulsing tunnel at whose end is yet another component vital to story—consequence.  Perhaps even consequences.

There are those who seem to relish having their decision made or their assignment done or their bill paid well in advance of the deadline, enjoying in the process the senses of order and calmness associated with preparedness.  You are not such a person.

You enjoy drama in all its potential presences, including the drama of pulling an all-nighter or whatever it takes to get the assignment done or the decision made.  When the matters of assignments or decisions arise, you like the process of going over the options, giving them some thought, then putting them as far from your mind as your mind will allow you. If possible, you attempt to forget about the project at hand, indulging the notion that you are letting it percolate through the folds and crevasses of your subconscious, even to the point of recalling a dream in the interim where something may have bubbled through.

As deadline time approaches, you may even be aware of having written some notes, an opening line or even a paragraph, possibly an outline, which you must now try to find.  There is perhaps some artifice in this; not being able to find your notes adds a surge of adrenaline or, if not that hormonal, then concern, which becomes the agent of focus.

If you have found the notes, they either impress you with their complete lack of appropriateness or the “you-ness” you have come to expect of yourself.  Either approach has the advantage of getting you to work.

There have been enough times in your life where deadlines relative to payments such as rent or installments of one sort or another were so fraught with drama that you tend to make those the exception.  Thus there is a slight chink in your sang froid, but it is a chink you allow in the interests of keeping your focus on the balance of deadlines on a more creative level.

A part of the process calls for you to impress yourself with the ease of it, of how you always manage to come through.  But this, too, is artifice, you gaming yourself into thinking it is easy when you know it is not, knowing how the difficulty of it all is part of the drama you live with.  There are those you know who flat out admit to it being difficult.  They complain about it.  They bitch and procrastinate and pick arguments and drink a good deal.

You have tried these things at one time or another.  They did not help, and you ended up by not liking the things you said or did when you were complaining, bitching, and procrastinating. Drinking a good deal is better indulged for other purposes such as camaraderie or mischief. Least of all, you did not like using the difficulty in meeting deadlines as an excuse to pick arguments.  This is particularly so because you have what you consider better reasons to pick arguments.

So far, you are on good terms with your deadlines, and they seem not to hold any grudges against you.  You are there for them and they seem to be there for you.


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