Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Don't Be Afraid of Your Editors

Coming from an academic environment -- I worked at a university for over 15 years -- I got used to a rigid, unbending hierarchy. Professors could be okay, but once you got to the department heads and higher, your place was defined in the sand. I worked in departments where there was no rule bending for any reason and administrative people wanted you to have some fear in them. Deadlines were set in stone. Miss them and you had to deal with the wrath of angry faculty -- nevermind your work sat on their desks for ages and got lost and they in turn blamed you for missing their deadlines. (Disclaimer: not everybody works this way, of course, but I sure did see it a lot.)

Now I work for myself and I have a lot of freedom to set my own rules. But I still have to answer to editors and deadlines. I'm good about making my deadlines, mostly because I believe that's my job, but also because of my work background.

I was in the middle of a deadline when my daughter thought she was in labor. My husband drove her to the hospital while I tried to write. It was too difficult for me to concentrate on anything. They came home a few hours later and I regained my composure and finished.

However, my writer friends told me to contact my editors and tell them what was going on. Editors understand. Editors build into their schedule for such emergencies. You won't lose any jobs.

So I did email the editor of the above deadline and explained why this article was coming a little later than planned. The next day, I got another assignment.

When the real labor started, I had 3 deadlines that day. The articles were either partly written and needed to be typed up or I had just gotten the interviews finished the day before. Writing them wouldn't have been an issue. At 5 am, I was on email, explaining that nothing would get done this day. Maybe over the weekend. I'd try.

Hours and a new grandbaby later, I came home to find emails from my editors, totally understanding and telling me to concentrate on my family first.

Today I'm getting caught up. I finished article #1 yesterday and sent it off in the midst of the other stuff I already had on my calendar. I'll finish articles #2 and #3 this afternoon.

I learned a valuable lesson. Editors are people, too, and they do understand that sometimes life gets in the way. Better to tell them as soon as you know something in your life has gone differently than planned so they can work with you.

1 comment:

Marijke Vroomen-Durning said...

You're so right Sue. Most editors know that things can happen so they add a little breathing space to their deadlines. I know I did when I edited. And, if you've got a good record, only a real grump wouldn't think that the birth of a grandchild wasn't worth a late turn-in.
Congrats again!