Wednesday, December 02, 2009

I Got My Job Done

I took on a job, a free-lance writing assignment, which was not due until November 29, which is why I began in late August and worried about finishing in time. It was a package of 22 short pieces, about 7.5”, single-spaced, themed and had to grab the reader from the first sentence. This, in addition to everything else I do.

Many years ago, I used to think columnists like the New York Times’ Russell Baker used to sit back in his desk chair, puff on his pipe and calmly consider the issues of the day as he cranked out his three pieces a week for the Old Gray Lady. When I became one for the local paper, I wondered how he did it.

My deadline is Tuesday, but I often stretch it to Wednesday morning and cross my fingers when I ask for a six-hour extension from even there. Fortunately, it’s always the same size, so my editor (who also makes up her own pages) knows she can leave a hole for me and I’ll fill it in perfectly.

Long time ago, about maybe 25 years, I had a boss who was pretty busy and trusted my writing instincts. He trusted them enough to give me some ideas, a very rough draft of what he wanted and I would return the piece in his style, right down to the commas and semi-colons. You couldn’t tell the difference. I liked that.

I still like editing other people’s stuff so they can’t tell what I did. That’s a lot of fun. I call it “moving commas and periods” and keep what I did a secret.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

And you did a wonderful job, too.

December 03, 2009 3:59 PM  
Anonymous ruthc said...

Sure did.

December 03, 2009 7:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi-Five, Tom......

Unless you do it then you would not know that even a blog is demanding. You wake up with a cold, you reserve a time to work on it and a friend stops by, your brother gets you on I.M., but you still find a way t ocrank out a piece and the pieces are of equal quality, which do not betray your cold or whatever

Thanx much Tom

Ms. Victoria Lawn

December 04, 2009 5:59 AM  
Blogger Riel Nason said...

I agree writing is a time-consuming prospect, but I love the motivation of a deadline. My newspaper column is never late, but my fiction I write on my own schedule is rarely finished as quickly ...

December 04, 2009 8:11 AM  

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