“Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.”
I heard this quote about 20 years and it perfectly summed up my feelings about my boss at the time.
Now when I ask people for favors or help, I keep that quote in mind and try to give them as much notice as possible. I realize things come up at the last minute, so that’s not always possible, so I apologize for the short notice.
Lately I have been on a big deadline for a piece that means the world to me. I’ve been working on (read: obsessing about) a personal essay for the past few weeks. It’s a very time-sensitive piece that I’ve waited 25 years to share, so, as you can imagine, there’s a lot riding on this.
My friend has been invaluable in helping me navigate pitching this story to the media. She has offered so many suggestions on where to send it, editors who might be interested in it and other ideas of other media outlets who might publish it. She has edited my pitch, weighed in on the subject line and so much more. I’m incredibly grateful to her for how seriously she’s taken it and how quickly she’s turned things around.
Yesterday the window on this piece was closing, I was on another deadline and I was getting ready to head out of town. Even though I’ve been writing for years, I haven’t written a personal essay before and I really wanted her eyeballs on it before sending it out.
I made her aware of my deadline because another valuable lesson I learned 20 years ago was “What by When.” Tell me what you need by when.
I knew she’d come through, but I wasn’t sure it would be in time. my patience was wearing thin. Yes, I trust her, but I wasn’t sure she’d get it back to me in time. I tried my best to focus on my other project, but this waiting game was still in the back of my mind.
Sure enough, she got back to me in a few hours and I was thrilled. I looked at her edits and had myriad questions, so I called her. No answer. She texted me back saying she was in a place where she couldn’t talk. I hated to do this, but I asked her if there was somewhere she could go to chat because it was quicker to talk through the edits over the phone. No response.
After waiting for about 15 minutes, I decided to put my questions in writing and sent it off. She responded saying that I didn’t have to take all of her edits, which I knew, but forgot. She said that these were her thoughts and that she couldn’t do any more because she was on a deadline.
I totally appreciated that, thanked her and made the edits I thought were appropriate.
It’s not that I don’t trust my writing abilities, but I know the first draft is never the finished product and I want another set of eyes on it.
I now realize that I lot of my trust is around perfectionism. I want to come across as professional. I want to give an editor a piece that’s as close to finished and perfect as possible. I want to give them reasons to publish the piece and not dismiss it. However, I forget that no editor is going to print this without making edits to it.
And now that I’ve sent it off, I know that the real waiting game starts now as I wait for editors to get back to me. That’s where the real trust comes in.
Do you have patience when waiting for an email? A response to some project you’re working on or are you staring at the clock wondering when you’ll hear back? Either way, you’re in good company. Tell me about it below and if you like what you read, subscribe below, too.