Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Five Stages of Insane Deadlines

So yeah. The intense crush of deadlines that come every year at this time of year is pretty much officially over. When I started seeing the light at the end of the tunnel a few days ago, it occurred to me that the emotional response to dealing with a crush of assignments is akin to the five stages of grief--denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance--only the order is a little different. And there's one extra phase.

Rather then ending up with "acceptance," most freelancers start out with an accepting mindset. You're happy to have the work, you know it's going to get rough, but you also know you can do it! Then, as the weight of the workload starts to feel heavy, comes the phase known as "denial," or, holy shit, I don't know if I can get this done on time this time. This is way too much work!

Next comes "bargaining," as in: "Dearest Editor: Could I possibly extend my deadline just one itty bitty day???" And even though they always say yes, it's around this time that you're starting to feel the first hints of "anger" as you silently begin to curse your editors for how easy their jobs are compared to how hard yours is. And the pay differential--for WHAT?? And that grows like fungus into anger about your whole life and how nothing in life sucks more ass than being a lowlife writer for hire.

As mental and physical exhaustion sets in, you become too tired to feel anger, and "depression" sets in. You look around you and you're surrounded by mounting tasks. Your stories may be getting done, but there are no clean towels in the bathroom, the bill pile grows thicker by the day, the walls desperately need to be painted, and oh god--I'm never gonna have time to write that book--ever!!

Finally it's all over and you collapse in a heap, or, do like a did last night--order take out pizza, eat half the pie and don't move from in front of the TV for the next four hours straight. The final phase is of course "euphoria." Everything has been turned in, you leave your house for the first time in a week and you're standing in the coffee shop, waiting your turn, and you find yourself almost smiling, thinking of the wage slaves who had to scurry into work hours ago. Life is damn sweet!

And on that note, I'm gonna catch up on a stack of magazines, see if there's anything interesting and I'll try and start posting again tonight. Sob--I missed you guys!

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