Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Publish or Perish

I was recently asked to write a short article for an online magazine. I was very excited, as this was a goal I had, since I started as an online professional nearly 10 years ago. I thought I did a good job of remaining calm when the editor asked, I asked what I felt were some relevant questions that I had heard other writers ask in the past (what type of topic are you interested in, when do you need it by, how long should it be..) I was very proud of myself.

So off I went back to my normal work day, with a basic idea in hand and a plan to start a basic outline, as I had learned in college, and I figured I'd be off and running in a day or two, as I fit it into my already busy schedule or sales calls, meetings and project management (not including family time, training, sleep..). I had just over a month to get it done, plenty of time. You wouldn't believe how quickly those first couple weeks go, and of course, I hadn't really accomplished anything. One of my key programmers was off on his honeymoon, and that added some stress, then a project got behind, then my business partner went off on his honeymoon, wow, what a month.

So, as the deadline approaches, I keep opening the article I had started, and everything I had a thought, even in the shower - I would jump out right after the thought - no matter where I was and at least shorthand the information/idea onto the doc I had opened for this article. I was now getting desperate to get something down on paper (virtual paper.. But paper none the less). I felt as if I only could get a couple thoughts together and some quiet time, the ideas that I knew were in there would start flow and I'd be okay again. The deadline of course, came and went. I emailed the editor immediately, I did have some professional dignity left, informed her that I was in fact behind and would complete the article over the weekend, and then have it reviewed by some friends and business associates on Monday and have it to her on Tuesday.

Believe it or not, that was the final straw, now I was embarrassed for having missed a deadline, something I preach heavily to my own employees and yet here I was.. Late. I finished very early Monday morning, had my business partner review the article, accepted his changes and sent it f off to the editor with my sincerest apologies and a lot of apprehension that the article was complete crap.

It's now been nearly a week since I sent the article off, and I've yet to hear anything back. I'll be unwilling the editor today to get an update, but I have to admit that I'm concerned that I didn't follow my rule of 'under promise and over deliver'. I've certainly learned that I need to follow my own rules and if I commit to a side project, it still has the same weight as any business commitment. I truly did enjoy irritating the article, once I got to it, and know that only thru practice and professionalism, will I get the opportunity to do it more (other than this blog - which is completely up to me). Whatever the outcome, I think I've learned a lesson about side projects, and how important writhing is to me. I'll be adjusting how I do a few things, and either way, I've learned a few lessons. It's funny. I was just thinking that my dad, who has written articles for decades and has a few books published, still has this same problem, and warns me against it all the time. Shows you that sometimes you can't tell someone - they have to learn the hard way. Darn kids.. never listen.

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