Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Beware the Wages of Work

by Janis Patterson
This is going to be a short post, because both The Husband and I are feeling real puny. He threw his back out (out? practically into the next county!) shoveling dirt while playing with the dinosaurs at the Arlington Archosaur Site (run under the aegis of the Perot Museum) and is hurting terribly. I caught some… something that makes my head feel stuffed with wet rags, my throat scoured with sandpaper and a persistent low grade fever that will not go away.

So what does this have to do with writing? Him – nothing. Me – potentially a lot. I’ve been ferociously struggling against deadlines for over a year while juggling the daily trials of existence – cooking, laundry, birthdays, getting the car worked on, all the things that we all do all day every day. It’s called life.

On the other hand, I’m a bear when it comes to deadlines. I’ve only missed one in my entire life, and that was because of a catastrophic car accident a couple of decades ago. Having been raised in advertising, I was taught early that deadlines are sacrosanct.

No one ever bothered to impress on me that I should not take on so many of these immutable deadlines so close together.

Okay, so I’ll spare the suspense. I made my latest deadline – and promptly keeled over into a coughing, sneezing, fever-ridden mess. It’s not like I didn’t have adequate warnings – The Husband (who has his own weirdnesses) kept telling me, “Slow down, honey – you always get sick when you get overtired…”

I didn’t listen. But I made my deadline!

If there is a cautionary note to my sad little tale, it’s that we have to take care of ourselves. No deadline is worth your health. So – first of all, don’t take on so many projects that you can’t complete them in a reasonable time with reasonable effort. Secondly, live your life! Enjoy your family. If I may be trite, smell the roses. There are other things than the computer – I know it’s hard to step away when all those voices are clamoring in your head, but if your head is stuff with drippy wet rags they’re going to drown anyway.


Morgan Mandel said...

Deadlines can be a good thing. They keep an author focused on getting a wip done! I self pub now. I could set deadlines for myself, but my brain tells me I don't really have to follow them. That can be good or bad.

Earl Staggs said...

I feel for you and The Hub. I'm just getting over a bout of flu and pneumonia.

Susan Oleksiw said...

You're right about the toll of taking on too much. I've learned to slow down, or at least my body collapses before I get really sick. Deadlines keep me moving forward, but too many cripple me. Yes, smell the roses.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Feeling unhealthy at this time as well and so I agree with you all the more. Hope you both feel better soon!

Ms. M. said...

So you're slowing down now, right? Take care of yourself first and the rest will take care of itself.

Maris said...

I work best under a deadline, but you are right,no deadline is worth ruining your health. That said, it's often difficult to say no to those outside activities or obligations, and missing deadlines isn't good. On the other hand, it's better to give an editor a call and said, "I'm going to be just a little late" than to end up in the hospital.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

I had THE COLD, hubby had something else weird.

Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

I sure hope you both feel better soon!
Take care and God bless

Linda Thorne said...

Hope you feel better too. I'm also one not to miss deadlines and I think sometimes I take on more than I can chew and then have an obsession about meeting the deadlines. I don't call in sick at work (when sometimes I should), but I do have an office to hide out in and not expose other. I have a publisher, but I think if I had one who had deadlines, I'd be writing more. I enjoyed this post and could empathize.