Quote of the day: Deadlines

Deadlines make us see deficiencies, not accomplishments. – Jean Balconi

I said this as encouragement to an acquaintance who beat herself up over an external deadline. She had an impressive list of all the things she’s done so far, but she couldn’t appreciate her own hard work. She reminded me of a game character running towards a goal while the timer is counting down in the corner and obstacles keep popping up in the path.

When I say something remotely profound, it usually applies to my situation. This case is no different.

My own deadline is looming: August 15. That’s the date for my rough draft to be complete. I’m not at the freak-out point yet, but I’m giving short shift to the reading and reflection parts of my DIY Writer’s Summer Camp. I returned Ender’s Game to the library unread because I’d rather write.

During the last two weeks, I wrote thousands of words in between day-trips, guests, and errands. Unfortunately, the content is slim: three versions of the same dialogue. I didn’t re-write, mind you. I wrote three different takes on the dialogue from scratch, each time implying a speaker’s intention or opinion.*

I’m quite pleased with the results, since each version has parts that will make a better whole. But I have thousands of words and a dozen chapters to go. And I must mention the obstacles on the horizon: my original antagonist has changed to a helper, the main antagonist hasn’t reared his stupid head yet, and the outlined ending stinks worse than the final entry of a series.**

Now I’m off to face the day – and the deadline.


*If you’re wondering where I got the idea, it’s not from any book I’m using. I was at a teacher’s meeting about reading and the facilitator asked us to look for different implied bias in the same text. So it’s a reverse-engineered writing exercise.

**I needn’t name one. You, dear reader, are already remembering a book series or a TV program that disappointed or enraged you.

Following one’s divine calling as an artist

“But there will come an alternative kind of temptation—to simply pursue a good life, a good faithful Catholic life, but to leave unfulfilled the particular calling and path that God has given you. Technically, no sins have been committed, but something is lost, some fruitfulness for souls is lost to the world. We cannot measure (…) what the success or failure of our efforts is. It is not our task to measure them. That is God’s business.

“Our task is to be faithful to the inspirations, guided by reason and discernment always, but at the core is going forth in the face of the culture of death, in a dark time, with the light of Christ within us, in Christian hope. That willingness, the Lord can work with. That, the Lord can make fruitful, if we would only trust. I’m not talking about feelings of trust. Feelings of trust come and go. But the choice to trust, to put one step in front of another, as we cross the desert of the modern age. There, in the desert, many surprises await us. Scripture says the Lord is a God of surprises. And he certainly has been so in my life.”

– Canadian painter and author Michael O’Brien