Self-Imposed Deadlines

The deadline to get Portsmouth Avenue Ghost up on pre-release was the 21st of November. I hit that deadline. Great. Yay me. Well, I didn’t hit it as much as I flopped messily against it, exhausted, frustrated and strung-out. With everything else that’s going on, the point of hitting the ‘upload’ button on Smashwords felt like an afterthought.

Who made that deadline, anyway? What’s the point of it? Why bother putting myself through the wringer just to hit some arbitrary date scrawled on a whiteboard? Doesn’t that turn writing into a chore?

Let me answer those one by one: I made the deadline. I made a date for the first draft. Then, when I reached that, I made a date for the second, then the third and also for the cover.  Finally I made the deadline for the pre-release.

The point is that by making dates and tracking my progress, I force my focus onto getting that task done. I then prioritise writing over, say, playing video games or watching television. The priority game also comes into play when I’ve got other creative tasks on the menu, like making You Tube videos or drawing or painting or crafting.

Sounds good, right? Keeping myself on track, avoiding the pitfalls of procrastination and distraction. It’s more than that, though. There’s this thing called Reality.

Most decisions are beyond me. It’s often not a matter of ‘I can do this, or I can do that’, rather it’s ‘I must do this and must do that’. See the difference?

The real question is why do I threaten my health and sanity just to reach some uninteresting date imposed by no one other than myself? It’s quite simple, really. I have commitments. I have to work, no questions. I have to take care of my family, no questions. I have to deal with emergencies and chores and errands and last-minute things. There’s no choice about that.

If I want anything of my own to be accomplished, then I have to afford it a status of ‘has to be done’, otherwise it can’t compete against the rest.

And, yes, it does turn writing into a chore. If I was writing for myself or for a friend, it wouldn’t be a big deal, but I’m writing for a bunch of people I’ve never even met. I’m putting my name to a book that can be read by some guy on the other side of the world and he expects that what he gets passes a basic standard, and, more than that, expects it to be entertaining or informative. He won’t be as forgiving as a friend or relative. My credibility is directly linked to his enjoyment of it.

You’re damn right it’s a chore. It’s bloody hard work!

Imagine you’re making a batch of home-brew beer. There’s the cleaning and the sterilising, and the washing and the cooking, checking up on it, then the bottling and capping and storing it all under the house and checking again at intervals. It’s hard work, for sure, and one could easily pop down to the store and buy a slab, but that’s not the point, is it?

Deep down we want to create something. We want to put ourselves into what we do, express ourselves creatively, make something from nothing. That’s being human. Not all creative endeavours benefit others, of course, but those that do must be taken seriously.

A sketch on a napkin or a ditty in one’s head remain just as they are until they get turned into something ‘real’, in that they get taken seriously. The ditty gets engineered into a song. The sketch gets worked into a painting. Time and effort, lots of both, must be spent making something from nothing, creating things that never existed before we applied what God gifted us. Otherwise those little bursts of creativity stay on that scrunched up napkin and eventually get forgotten about.

Believe me, it’s all too easy to pretend that it doesn’t matter. You can think, “Ah, I’ll miss it by a day. Big deal.” It is a big deal. I’ve missed many deadlines and, each time, I kidded myself that there was nothing more that could have been done.

Bollocks.

Each time there was something I could have done. Without exception, every time I looked back, with honest eyes, and understood that I had left things too late, wasted time at the beginning of my project, spent too much effort doing trivial tasks. I could have done more and I could have done it better. Criticising myself retrospectively (another useful tool) means that, now, I reach my deadlines.

Deadlines are a front-line weapon against Entropy. They are an essential tool to make stuff real. Use them honestly and they’ll keep you honest.

Portsmouth Avenue Cover – The Saga Continues

I did it. As I rode home, I went over and over the possible situations: A hostile occupant. A disinterested one. Getting told to sod off. Getting an over-eager interest. How would it turn out? How would it all end?
I circled the block, checked it for other houses that might be more suitable (there weren’t), parked the bike, cricked my neck, cricked my fingers, admonished myself for procrastinating, and took off my helmet. “Hi, my name is Jeremy Tyrrell… Hmm. G’day, you don’t know me… nah. Hi, there. This might sound strange… Nup. Yo, firstly, I’m not here to sell you anything… Oh, boy.”
Clearly, pre-planning wasn’t working, so I opted to just wing it. Somehow, that felt better, or made more sense. I don’t know.
The front door was just over there. Only a few steps away. Through the gate, along the path, up the steps and across the portico, then ding-dong! Show time.
Easy as. Only the gate wouldn’t open. A latch? A bolt? Hasp and staple? No. A wire was tightly wrapped around the gate securing it to the brickwork.
Ba-bow!
No go, eh bro? Not so.
I am reminded by the saying, “Better to ask for forgiveness than permission.”

A sneak-peek of the house of choice

Is that even legal?

Good question. I had to do some searching around to get a handle on photography laws as it pertains to private properties and public places. Turns out, it’s actually quite legal.
In a nutshell, unless I’m a Peeping Tom (kinda tough to be one at 5:30 on a main road), or being a nuisance, taking a photograph of a building or scene that is visible from a public area is fine. There are exclusions, such as if one is photographing a commercial concern and goes on to make proceeds out of what is essentially not theirs, or if one has been told to push off, or if there are minors involved.
If one is on private property, however, permission needs to be obtained from the owner or relevant body.
In short, if you’re on the street, it’s fair game.

The result? Ehhh, not so fast. A got a photograph, but it’s not a cover just yet, not without removing things like telephone wires, street numbers, garbage bins, antennae and all of that.

I like this house. Handsome, two floors, a lovely garden, and large enough to sport several rooms. The sky above looks pretty turbulent, too. just need to make it darker, gloomier.

There’s a fair way to go yet. Right now, I’m getting a tea and going to bed.