Thursday, May 22, 2014

Crunch Time

The past two weeks have been a series of wondrous adventures.

I've explored The Great Barrier Reef…

Time traveled to 1849…

Investigated yabby behavior…

Yet still found time to squeeze in an Everest summit attempt.

Of course, all of this excitement took place on the page, but dang—

It was fun...

and scary!

For those of you who may be wondering what it's really like to write for an education company, here's how the excitement typically begins:

Fabulous Editor Person: Hi, Barb! We need two poems about the Civil War, a talking dog cautionary tale, and a nonfiction bit about the life and times of a slug.

Me: Sounds great! When do you need them?

Super Fabulous Editor Person: Yesterday.

Me: What time yesterday?

Super Fantastically Fabulous Editor Person: 4 o’clock.

Me: No problem.

Okay, okay, that’s an exaggeration — the deadline part, not the “Super Fantastically Fabulous” part (everyone I've ever worked for has been exactly that). However, the time frames can be a bit hair-raising.

Of course, the upside about hairy scary due dates is that the associated panic, relief, and adrenaline rushes mean I never have to waste cash on sky diving or bungee jumping.

Anyway, I still have ten more projects to complete with several lifelines between now and June 6th.

That’s right, I said LIFElines, not deadlines — and not simply because that other term has the messy and morose “swimming with the fishes” part, but because lifeline is actually more accurate.

How so?

Well, those daunting dates leave NO ROOM FOR DOUBT, and as such, they always breathe life into the weak-pulsed, gasping for oxygen, harebrained ideas I come up with.

Face it, if you have an endless amount of time to finalize a piece of writing, you hem and haw, you twiddle your thumbs and wonder if you should have gone to law school, you think and rethink that this is absolutely, positively the dumbest idea ever, and then finally you go clean the tub.

With a “lifeline” all that crazy-making (and sadly, housecleaning) goes away.

So, if I'm working on a story that’s due tomorrow, and all I can come up with is something about a boy and his duck — well dadgummit, it’s going to be the best dang “boy and his duck” story that I can possibly muster.

And guess what?

It usually turns out much better than I ever expected.

It will for you, too.

And yes, I have actually sold a “boy and his duck” story. 

PROMPT: Ditch the dead and embrace the lifeline. Set a due date for your next project and make it real. Give a friend a check filled out to your LEAST favorite cause and have them send it in if you’re not done on time. Or 
worse — have someone hide the chocolate (gasp!) until you’re through.

You can do this! How do I know? Because you are Super Fantastically Fabulous!

Set a date. Get it done. Then invite me to the party.


  1. I love that you write for an education company! Sooo cool! I'll bet your "boy and duck story" will be fabulous! We've discussed these adventures of yours in the past, but I'd like to hear more about them the next time we meet up somewhere. By the way, I'm practically a duck eggspert because I owned a duck for about a week when I was 17. (Okay, maybe I'm not an expert...) Since it's a beautiful day, I suggest hanging out with your chickens on writing breaks for some avian inspiration. :)

    1. Dawn, I would love to get together sometime and talk about our eggsperiences! When I was a teen, I had a pet duck who followed me to the bus stop every day. At the time, I was embarrassed. Luckily, however, each day's ribbing didn't last for long, thanks to the "Mary Had a Little Lamb" teen down the road who was escorted by a ewe. Ah, life in rural PA... :)