Saturday Afternoon

Feeling pretty good today and I know why: No pressing deadlines. I have work I have to do but nothing that absolutely/positively has to be in tomorrow or Monday.

As a professional-type writer, I fight the constant three-way battle: Getting the work done on time, getting the work done to my satisfaction and getting the work done without staying up all night and screwing up my health and the rest of my life. I'm just coming off an extended period when that was not a battle; more like World War III. Dealing with my mother's illness and passing (of course) made it more difficult. One particular night when she was in the hospital, I ran back and forth, doing son-type things at the hospital, coming back here to write a few pages, running back to the hospital, etc.

I even tried writing at the hospital. At 4 AM one morning, I finished one script that had to be recorded the next day (i.e., six hours later) and I finished it working on my laptop in a small area they graciously cleared for me at the nurse's station. Around the time I typed, "The End," a nurse came by and told me that the doctor who'd asked me to remain "close by" had said it was okay for me to go home. I went home by way of an all-night FedEx-Kinko's, dropping the script off on a flashdrive so it could be Xeroxed for the actors and picked up the next morning by my assistant Darcie as she drove to the recording studio. I actually managed about four hours of sleep that night before I had to go in and direct.

I hate cutting things that close but it's sometimes unavoidable. If you look back at the time stamps on these postings the last few months, you'll see an awful lot that indicate I was here at the computer at 4 AM or 5 AM. This is never because I like to get up early because I never do. Sometimes, I go to bed at two or three with something uncompleted…then lie there for a long stretch, still "writing" in my head until I get up and finish the damn thing. I always sleep great once something (almost anything!) is done.

So I slept well last night and today, I'm finishing up the foreword for a book that's coming soon from the fine folks at Dark Horse Comics — a collection of Hal Foster's Sunday Tarzan pages. I more or less finished it Thursday night but they don't need it 'til Monday so I have the luxury of noodling with it and fiddling and seeing if I can tighten up or improve wording here or there. I also have to finish my end of the last six pages on Part Three of the long-awaited four-issue Groo Vs. Conan mini-series, also from Dark Horse. I dunno when it'll be out but Sergio brought me pages yesterday and I think we'll be done with our end of it in a month or so — no all-night binges necessary, at least on my part. (Sergio, by the way, has his medical problems under control but he has had to cancel his appearance at the WonderCon in Anaheim at the end of March.) I may also have time to whittle away at a pile of e-mails in my "To Be Answered" folder. There are messages in there where folks tell me Obama cannot possibly beat McCain.

This posting is kind of a Note to Myself to try, try, try not to get into those deadline jams again. One cannot avoid them all but there are times one can avoid the "I've got plenty of time" trap. It's Monday, the assignment is due Friday, it'll take you a day at most to write so you don't jump right on it. Somehow, other matters pop up and suddenly, you find yourself not starting on it 'til late Thursday night. Been there, done that too many times.

So I'm rededicating myself for the umpteenth time not to let that happen. It will, of course, but I want to see how long I can go before getting myself into the next "it has to be in tomorrow" trap. Wanna know when it happens? Just wait for a message here time-stamped between 4 AM and 8 AM. That'll mean I'm up finishing something at the last possible minute. Like I said, you can't avoid them all. You can just hope when you're racing the clock and up past your bedtime, it isn't because you were too dumb to start on it sooner.