Deadlines creep up on us. No matter how many times we do it, some weeks we will let that deadline get closer and closer. That's when we may have to "mail it in," literally and figuratively.
I have a file of started but incomplete columns. Hundreds of them. A sentence, a paragraph, maybe even a full page. But there's something about it I don't like. Sometimes I know what it is. Sometimes it is simply a feeling that I don't want to publish that thought.
The file of incomplete columns is almost never reviewed by me. Those are probably dust in the wind. Sorry, Boston Blackie, but I never could complete your column. Sorry, Broderick Crawford, same deal.
I'll plan ahead a few weeks writing columns for special dates or occasions. My usual fare is the spontaneously combusted thought. For some reason or no reason, a thought will zing across my brain as something which might be worth talking about. It may bounce around for days or weeks, then suddenly come into focus. I write that.
I know when I've mailed it in, figuratively. I'll read those published columns later and think "really, Jim, you put your name on that?!" And I'll answer myself "shut up, I had a deadline."
Recently I wrote a column titled "Worst Oops Ever!" It was about a town in Spain which built a 43 story building with no elevator shafts. As fate would have it, the following week, as the column ran, I read another story which made that "oops" seem minor by comparison. China has built entire cities large enough to hold a million residents, but they can't get anyone to move into them. So the "worst oops ever" I wrote about was small compared to the one in China. Oops.
Some weeks I want to write about something poignant, or instructive, or loving. Other weeks I don't. Why? Because the human experience is varied. Some weeks are awesome. Some are awful. Most are somewhere between. My writing is a reflection of what I experience at a given moment in time. By the time it is published, I may be in a different frame of mind, entirely.
I may write about death one week, but by the time that one publishes, my mind is off to watch the latest love bug invasion, or the coming migration of Monarch butterflies, as they make their incredible journey south to mountains in central Mexico. How do butterflies which have never made that trip consisting of thousands of miles manage to make it? How will butterflies several generations removed make the trip next year? That they do it every year is one of life's amazing miracles.
Well, looky there. It's time to mail this in.
© 2013, Jim “Pappy” Moore, All Rights Reserved.