Some people organize time with calendars, or their phones, or, if they’re over the age of 70 and don’t know how to use any form of computerized machinery, a datebook. I always try to do this but I fail. It’s not that I’m not organized, but eventually I realize that I haven’t checked my calendar, phone, or (pre-2001) datebook in a long time and have been remembering stuff all on my own, and that maybe I haven’t destroyed the majority of my brain cells with alcohol. Yet.
Lately, I’ve been organizing my time in deadlines. Each month is sorted into shows, albums, and word counts that I’ve promised to meet. This next month and a half is two albums (one due Friday, the next due a couple of days after I get the album in the mail), one show (February 9th, and I took vacation the day after the show because a) I hate my job and b) it’s easier for me to write in my pajamas than it is on break at work), and two books (one by early February, the other by mid-March). My editor referred to this as “a bunch on your plate,” which I suppose is true when you consider my full time job, my relationship, and regular adult things like remembering to eat when I’m hungry, go to the bathroom when I have to, and balance my checkbook. For some people, that sort of stuff is enough. For me, the deadlines are a way to manage my thoughts and discipline my writing, because even when I’m not that into what I’m hearing (or seeing, or whatever), I’ve agreed to turn my experience into something thoughtful, ethical, and valuable to someone who is not me.
This isn’t as difficult as you might think, that is, if you only think of me based on what you read here. I’ve been told by more than one person that my blog is a lot of complaining, although it’s worth mentioning that the people who shared this observation also understand my sense of humor and, in some cases, the situations I’m writing about. But it’s really not that hard for me. I said that I need deadlines to stay organized and disciplined, which is true. Did you know that I would have graduated with honors if I’d bothered to do my homework? Aside from math (a subject at which I am retarded, and I mean that in the truest, non-offensive sense of the word), I got straight A’s and B’s in everything while ignoring most of my assignments. I just didn’t care about it. I’d show up, ace the tests, and write the big papers, but that nightly multiple choice/copying sentences/word problem bullshit? No. Not fucking likely. I had a job and I played varsity, I did not have time for algebraic functions. Despite what my teachers said, I still don’t use any of that in my adult life. I’m also not a rocket scientist, but then, neither were my teachers.
Now that I’m an adult, I respect deadlines. They’re less about the repetition of knowledge I know to be useless and more about doing what I say I’m going to do. I consider this to be the apex of Being An Adult. You don’t have to be the smartest or the fastest or the most popular. These things help, but they’re not essential. What’s really essential is doing what you say you’re going to do. Don’t lie. Don’t break promises. Don’t disappoint people, and if you do, apologize. Sincerely. The older I get, the more the half-yelled ramblings of my drunken grandfather at my sports games make sense. Get in there. Stick with it. Follow through. If you won all the time, it’d be boring. YARRRR FLARRRR YOU GODDAMN UMPIRE GO TO HUBLLERRR GARRRR. Sure, there are times when I want to curl up, go blank, and stay home. But I need these deadlines because they keep me on point, keep me honest.
You know how many times I’ve been late on deadline? Once. It was when Graham fell off his bike and broke his face, and I spent an entire day waiting in medical facilities to hear if he had brain damage. Even then, I was one day late, and I asked my editor for the extra time beforehand. I’m an adult. I know how to make time. I know how to carve out some space to write when I’m most productive (10:30am on a weekend, cup of coffee to my right and Graham still asleep). I know when the pacing I do is useful and when it becomes aimless wandering where I end up in the basement for no reason. These deadlines are for the homework I’m happy to do, and this adult responsibility is pretty great when you think about it.
That said, the album I’m working on now is hard. It’s all background, and I have a feeling that most of my thoughts on it will be spoken in short, poorly conceived bursts into my voicemail while I’m driving around in my car. Deadline is Friday. Lucky me.