I’m sitting on a deadline.

Well, not on it ; it’s still a few months away. I don’t know when it is exactly, maybe late January or mid- February. I could look it up — but I’ll forget it right away. It’s a line and it’s dead and it sucks in everything around it like a big black hole.

Will I die if I cross it without my manuscript neatly tucked under my arm? Of course not, but the monkey tells me I might.

Could I extend it with a phone call? Probably. My publisher seems to like me and will certainly understand. But the monkey won’t let me try.

Am I scared of it? Not exactly. I feel it out there, inching toward me like Sauron’s armies, scorching everything in its path, but I know I need it.

I need it like I need Death itself, forcing me out of bed each morning, saying, ‘make the donuts, write the blog, tick things off your endless to-do list. Time is running out and there’s buckets left to do‘.

When I was twenty-one, I faced the biggest deadline I’d seen so far. My senior thesis was due sometime in April or May. I could see that date, a smoking rut, glowing on the horizon all the way from the middle of my junior year. So I started writing before the summer began, then through the fall, and finally deposited 400 pages on my advisor’s desk in early January. He glowered at me. “Couldn’t you submit this in the spring, like a normal person? I don’t want it hanging around here till then.” I left him with my tome, the responsibility passed.

Deadlines drive me. They drive me crazy. Drive me forward. Drive me to do more and better. So, this coming deadline, I’m pretty sure I’ll come under it and over-deliver. But for now, I’ll just have to feel it tighten around my windpipe every day. Besides, I’ve told myself all along that writing a book about the monkey was just asking for trouble, like writing with a loaded gun by my laptop, that I’d have to wrestle it away from my temple every day.

I’ve gotten loads written. At least I’m pretty sure I have. I type then toss each page over my shoulder into a growing pile. One day soon, I will push them all together, and start organizing a coherent whole. Each day, the monkey tells me that I actually have nothing, that it’s all chaos and crap, and I’m dying to look back and see if he’s right. But some force keeps shoving my head down and my fingers back on the keys.

The monkey says, ‘take a break and write a blog post about deadlines’  and I listen. But now I’m gonna stop and head back to the grindstone.

That deadline’s getting closer and I am surfing its undertow.

9 thoughts on “Pre-crastination”

  1. Great post as always Danny. I feel the same around here… full todo lists plus a close deadline to a big commission…


  2. Oh yes….you’ve struck a nerve here Danny…just like a jangling tooth nerve. You have just identified the ‘monkey’ in probably hundreds of us facing deadlines…..and articulated so welll because you have connected with that visceral sromach tightening feeling in guts… please write the blog that tells us how to summarily dismiss the deadline monkey!


  3. Sounds like Golgotha. And we all have our own version of it. Danny you have a talent for sharing that experience with all of us. One thing I like about your work is that sometimes you help me get through my version. I like your intuition about setting yourself up for trouble when writing a book about the monkey. Yet is that not what we do when we set ourselves up with a deadline. Great post.


  4. Hilarious post Danny. I don’t know how you’ll “deal” with so much love we are “sending” your way💝 but I had such a laugh in the car reading this. You gave me a reason to love my new iPhone (I’m still upset with it because my hand reaching in my purse grabs rather the phone then the sketchbook now😔)
    No, I’m not driving. As a matter of fact I’m parked in front of an art supplies store… What should I get this time!?😍

    OMG! You are amazing!!!!!


  5. Why is it so fun to read about your Monkey? The answer is: reading about your Monkey shuts mine up for a little bit. What if we traded Monkeys? Would that work? Probably not, says mine. Lol


  6. I have news for you Danny. The end of January or mid February are not a few months away and you so blithely wrote while under the influence of monkey-brain. As one who has nightmares when deadlines are impending, the plane leaves in an hour and I haven’t packed, the laundry isn’t dry and I can’t possibly make check-in in time . . . you know the general theme I’m sure.

    Have you written about how monkey mind can invade and control dreams . . . all kinds of dreams?


  7. Good luck in getting all that written. We who read your books appreciate it. Just don’t let that Monkey ruin your Christmas! Happy Holidays to you Danny, thanks for SBS, another gift from you to other artists.


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