I woke up yesterday morning and saw that a friend of mine who edits a small online publication asked if I’d like to write something for her website.
I asked her if Starbucks serves coffee or if it’s dry in Albuquerque (yes, and yes, if that’s not obvious). No, I didn’t really. I told her that I absolutely wanted to contribute to the website.
I know it sounds like I must be well-connected, but I promise you, I’m not. This is the first time this has happened to me. Ever.
As soon as I agreed, I went into obsessive panic mode. Or, maybe I was just being manic? I don’t know.
I was first concerned with the deadline. If the deadline wasn’t sufficiently far into the future, I was going to freak out. She reassured me that I had almost two weeks to write 750 words. Okay, I could deal with that.
Then, I started panicking. “WhaT iF I CaN’t WrItE 750 WoRdS?! WhAt Do I dO tHeN?!” Oh, it turns out that it can be as short as 350 words.
So, then, the only things left to panic about were the specifics of the article, which, as far as I could tell, were up to me. So, my brain started zipping around and writing the article in my head while I was making breakfast and trying to go about my life.
Over and over again, I told myself to slow down, but I couldn’t. The next thing I knew, it was 12 hours after I’d agreed to write the article and I’d written it. It came in around 730 words.
I considered making it shorter, not because I thought the piece would be better shorter, but because of my upfront word count panic. I had the strange desire to represent my freak out as an accurate prediction, rather than an irrational freak out.
I thought about keeping it until the deadline. I worried that sending it sooner would invite a lot of edits, and I don’t want a lot of edits. Last night, I was in bed panicking about the possibility of getting a lot of edits.
I had a bad experience with that in the past, and I really don’t want to repeat it.
I reminded myself that my friend is an extremely experienced editor and that she gave me a deadline that is only two business days before it is set to be published. She published ten articles in the last issue, so she clearly has no intention of spending a lot of time editing.
She’s been editing for various publications, including newspapers and trade magazines, since she was college age (we went to high school together). She was super laid back about word count as well as laid back about exactly what I wrote. A person planning to keep to a publication schedule doesn’t waste time with being laid back at first and then crazy controlling after the piece is written.
Last night, I showed my finished article to Adam, and he said, “You started this yesterday? That’s amazing!” I said, “No, I started it this morning.” “What?! But, the writing is so clean! This reads like a finished product, not a draft.”
So, this morning, after Adam’s response plus all of my above reasoning, I sent her the article about 24 hours after she’d initially asked me to write it.
I know that this squarely lands in the zone of, “not a big deal,” but it is to me. There have been many times in the past when I’ve gotten my hopes up over something like this and it has fallen through. It either became nothing or it turned into such a nightmare that I couldn’t continue, and then it became nothing.
Anyway, speaking of word count, this post is getting close to 700 words, too, so I should probably call it a day.