The challenge of meeting a looming deadline

To my readers — you’ll just have to take whatever you get this week.

I’m sitting on my sundeck on a sunny afternoon and I’m waiting for the words to my column to arrive. I’m fast approaching  deadline and usually the words either pop into my head or somebody inadvertently delivers them to me. I’ve learned that if I try to chase them I can never catch them. It’s best to just sit quietly and wait until they settle gently on the page.

It’s Sept. 15, so I could write something about fall, but it’s also 24 degrees so the  phrases about crisp winds or early frosts don’t yet apply. It seems when we can’t complain about the rain we are stuck for words.

It’s a Monday afternoon. Everyone else is off to work so no noisy machines to complain about. The neighbourhood kids are away somewhere or maybe entranced with  screens indoors. The teachers’ strike is still on so no bells or playground squeals from the elementary school around the corner. That also reduces the afternoon traffic in the area.

You’d think the solitude would be good for the creative mind. Without distractions the thoughts would stream from the mind onto the paper. But sometimes the mind needs to shut down as well, take a vacation and just wander in silence.

John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote: “I’m fixing a hole where the rain gets in and stops my mind from wandering.” The rain wasn’t disturbing their writing — just their mind wandering.

They go on to say “I’m taking the time for a number of things that weren’t important yesterday.” Yesterday, the words to my column weren’t important because the deadline was so very far away. Today those words have a more prominent spot on my “things to do list,” and yet they are still elusive. The curse of the procrastinator is that, eventually, the deadline does arrive.

I can suddenly envision my parents reading  a homework assignment from Grade 6. A big C- in red on the top corner and beside that in neat cursive writing the teacher has written, “Jimmy would have received a much better mark if he had turned in his assignment on time.”

Well in defence, I had a paper route, a cow to milk, a wood box to fill and baseball or soccer to play and on the priority list, each of those held a higher spot of interest than the War of 1812. Besides, if I had been allowed to stay up late the night before it was due to finish it, it would have been in on time. Always disruptions or distractions, it was never totally my fault.

Now a blue jay and a squirrel are arguing over the stale bread I scattered across the lawn. Who can think with that racket going on? Plus, the day is spectacular and with rain in the forecast I should be lying in the sun reading someone else’s creative words.

I’ve tried a few lines of poetry but they stopped in mid-stanza. I could pull on them like a stubborn mule but I know once they’ve stopped they won’t start again until I’m almost asleep or I’m somewhere without a pen and paper, like driving. Texting poetry while driving should be allowed as a creative and artistic exemption to the Motor Vehicle Act.

Well, there’s about an hour to go. You’ll just have to take whatever you get this week. At least that’s what McGregor says.

Langley Times

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