I never sleep well before deadline.
I write in my head all night, editing constantly, choosing one word over another, listening to the cadence of the words, the rhythm of the story about to be told.
I’ve always been like this, even when I faced two and three deadlines a day – advance, day-of, next-day follow-ups – all due within hours of each other.
Let’s just say being a newspaper reporter wasn’t for the faint-hearted, the chronically late or easily rattled. There was too much at stake: a daily newspaper to get out, and editors waiting for stories before going to press in 15 minutes.
I miss it every single day.
In the magazine world, there is a whole month between deadlines to think about what to write – and why – and to choose a topic that will still be timely after publication. I swear I change my mind a dozen times within the month on what to write.
This issue, I get two chances – my own column, plus I’m filling in this month for Jennie Marie Naffie, who was visiting family in Europe, during deadline week.
So what should it be: a few words about Mother’s Day? This is such an important day for mothers, daughters, sisters, cousins, aunts, women friends – one that should unite us rather than divide us with labels and categories. How about confessing how much I need spring this year? I suspect it’s been a long winter for everyone. A little sunshine could go a long way right now.
Before I forget, I come to the keyboard with a message from Jennie Marie, who apologizes for not having time to collect stories about the Flint water crisis for the May issue. She’s had a tough spring – illness, a car accident, more illness. I’m not telling tales out of school. She asked me to pass that along, as well.
So I tossed, and I turned the night before writing this. What to say in a space usually reserved for the editor-publisher’s words?
But just as I was about to start typing, playing with some thoughts, I learned that a friend – a good friend, someone I loved and respected – died the day before. I had not talked with him in a few months, so I didn’t know the end was near. I’ve been caught up in my own stuff, my own … well, everything … too self absorbed, too inward-turned.
The news jolted me back into a state of consciousness that not even the first promise of spring or April daffodils could manage.
How I wish I’d had one more chance to thank him, to tell him what his years of friendship meant – means – to me. So do this for me sometime this month. Call someone and tell him or her what your friendship means. Thank him. Tell her that you love her.
And please, do it often.