Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Delivering the Goods

In a bold mood I sent a history column proposal to an editor, together with 4 sample pieces and was stunned when he immediately responded. Yes, he was interested in a piece about the medieval carnival practices in Italy.
But… then he turned the tables on me by requesting a broader scope on the subject. And if I please could present him with a woodcut or pictures for the 1400 word article, possibly a 2 page feature, in the international magazine. There was no payment, only a by-line, but hey, this was a great opportunity! I was thrilled, but faced a terrible dead-line: I had only 1 day!

Frenzied research gave me the additional information and I managed to send the article in time. Got a “Thank you, I got it,” and that was all.

The article I sweat on was never published, and my ‘pay’ consisted of a nasty migraine the day after. This experience taught me that I should be ready to deliver the goods and ask myself beforehand if I would be ready (and willing to spend my precious time) to go the ‘extra mile’ if the editors should ask me.

So much for ‘boldness’ towards editors!
Writing the article was good exercise and I also learned a lot of things I dind’t know about that time period. But I could have done the same in a different way, without the anxiety/stress related migraine, by which I lost another writing day.

Looking back, I knew that this ‘urgent’ opportunity (at least, that’s how I saw it) had pushed away the ‘important’ ones that needed to be tackled too.
My priorities had been all wrong, and what might have worked for someone else, for me had been a disaster – I can’t handle too many jobs at once, that’s too stressful.

Kristi Holl writes in her book “First Aid for Writers” that different personalities need different working styles. She advises us to slow down and get more done, get ourselves out of the time pressure trap and invent our own rules, based on what we feel works for us, not what works for others. We should find and create our own natural writing rhythm that works for us!
Great advice to follow!