The fight of the century: writer vs. deadline. Again.

I work at a steady pace, being a former journalist and all. If my story was running in tomorrow’s edition, I didn’t go home until it was done. If the city council meeting didn’t adjourn until 11 p.m., I had minutes to explain a complex vote. Minutes and snipes from copy editors. Almost done? Can I read over your shoulder? How many inches? That’s too long. Get rid of a quote – I don’t care if it’s your favorite! WE’RE NEVER GOING TO MAKE IT!!!!!”

We made it. We always made it.

If I have a super power, it would be crushing the deadline monster. You think he’d get frustrated and find a new nemesis. You think he’d change his tactics. It’s the same battle every time. The deadline monster’s plot:

Slow motion potion

I’m sluggish, mentally and physically. How does he do it? Sleeping pills in my coffee? A trance? My fingers get thick and clumsy. My body screams for a nap. I have brain fog, and I want nothing more than to watch season two of Parks and Recreation. This much is true: the closer the deadline, the slower the output.

Distraction attraction

Distractions whisper, then scream. They taunt me. So much housework, so many unfinished projects. Normally, I don’t notice or care. (My slogan: A clean house is a sign of wasted time.) But this isn’t normal. The monster’s in charge, and I have to, I must, clean the closet and it can’t wait. It’s emergency cleaning. I can’t think or eat or shower until that closet is organized.

The closet project is half complete when I realize what’s happening. I resist and return to the laptop. When my almost-husband comes home, I meekly say, “Yes, honey, those things in the hall are the contents from our closet.”

Crisis Creation

Life is coasting for me. No bumps, no problems. Until deadline. Then my daughter is sick. The car’s check engine light blinks. Mom breaks her ankle. My credit card payment is due, but which one? Where’s the statement? Under the car seat?! Of course it’s under the car seat! Where else would it be? Only one hour lost to searching.

Nice try, deadline monster. But I’m a superhero with a sidekick. My almost-husband’s first super power is falling asleep. His second super power is deadline aid. He’s a crisis wrestler.

Relative Remorse

Mom: You haven’t called in two weeks.

Sister: How could you forget Mom and Dad’s anniversary?

Almost-husband: I’ll cook dinner again. What else do you need? Just make a list.

Daughter: You haven’t played with me since forever! My clothes are dirty! You forgot the permission slip! You said we’d make brownies! You’re coming to my class Halloween party, right? You promised!

That’s the monster’s ultimate weapon: using the child as a human blockade.

I get weaker. I can hear the monster’s evil laugh.

But I will make that deadline, even if I have to crawl to my laptop, even if I have to stay up all night, even if my family has to eat meals off wax paper because there are no clean dishes.

I will prevail.

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