Day job deadlines

I work as an event manager. I think it’s great work for me.

I can go to a place, intentionally obsess over details but also face a precise deadline. The audience shows up at a set time. It’s a living, breathing deadline that gets upset if the show is delayed. To be successful, at some point, event managers always have to let go of ‘perfect’ and embrace ‘perfectly fine’ to be able to open the doors on time.

For ‘under-published’ writers like me, you can keep shooting for perfect until the day you die. If you’re not publishing your work, then ‘deadlines’ are generally abstractions. Event management deadlines are real and I love them.

With experience you choose your event management obsessions. For formal dinners, I like to have all the chairs in the room perfectly pulled out from the table linens so that the linens drape gracefully. The idea is that they chairs flirt with tables and lightly ‘kiss’ the fluffy tablecloths. But if the room is too small or the time too short, then shove the chairs wherever you must. No matter how obscene the table-chair relationship becomes, you have to open the doors on time.

Because the on-site deadlines are non-negotiable, I am able to contain perfectionism, enjoy the work and relax after the deadline passes. Knowing that people will show up in three, two, one hours makes the work stimulating and interesting. I appreciate these real-world deadlines and the professional freedom they give to me.

While it has seemed impossible for most of my life, I believe the professional relationship I have with deadlines can transcend my work life and make its way to my creative life.

Creatively I’ve bought into the idea that deadlines are always harsh and stressful. But I’m sick of believing that. I know it’s a lie. I know it because I live with deadlines in my professional life and I love them. I’ve learned to love it when the doors open and the people walk in.

Imagine setting up a room for a party that you can relentlessly reschedule. For me, it would be an absolute version of hell. As I enter the imaginary room of this eternally delayed event, I see the mess of unfinished details and the expressions of unrestrained perfectionism. The work has not been based on reality. It’s been based on an abstraction for an audience that will never come. Even if the setup of the room somehow gets done, the room is unlikely to be welcoming. It’s far more likely to be oddly self-referential and cold.

When you’re on-site preparing an event, the deadline, the start-time, it’s the basis for all the work you do. Preparing for an ‘event’ without a deadline would be madness. I can however vividly imagine that sort of madness because that’s how I’ve been approaching my writing for years.

Knowing real people are going to show up, the deadline, it is the very basis of event management. I want it to be the basis of my writing. I want people to read my writing now. I’ve been creatively alone in a room long enough.

I could say more. There are thoughts here that could be better arranged and the ending seems weak. But hey, opening up creatively is new to me and I think this entry is perfectly fine.