Overtime (DOG EAR)

Overtime (DOG EAR)

don’t think I’ve ever gapped in posting my DOG EAR column (nor my book reviews, for that matter). Since 2012, I’ve been religiously posting up my observations on media, on writing, on techniques. I’ve talked about shows I’ve enjoyed (for TV and movies are just another form of storytelling). I’ve even talked about the societal changes to our reading habits (such as the impact of cellphones – people who know me are now going nooooooo! Say it isn’t so!)

I’ve written while sick, while tired. I’ve written in the middle of the night. I’ve written from work (shh!). I’ve even written on commuter trains (this is starting to sound like Green Eggs and Ham).

I even had the site queued up to spit out articles while I traveled across Europe and India. Strange to stroll through exotic ancient temples, their squat (and obscenely carved) columns cloaked in rustles of ivy, and think, “I guess that piece on sentence structure should be popping out about now.” It’s the world we live in.

But last week beat me.

We got caught with a surprise audit, surprising in that we did so badly in it. To my defense, if this was a ship, it wasn’t my part of the hull that failed. No, we had a dribble or two but the other side caved in with a total failure of everything and filled our compartments. The auditors demanded full records for a year back. A good friend of mine and a superior (in those nebulous corporate hierarchies that sometimes form) was tasked with meeting an impossible deadline. I rolled up my sleeves and helped.

It was brutal. While everyone else flounced off to a company picnic, we began organizing our methods – how would the data be collected? How would it be presented? Who would do what? Since it was bike to work day (and I had), I worked that first Friday until twilight fell and then bolted for home before the drunks came out. That weekend we worked until midnight each night, pulling data and being all heroic. The next week was pretty much full sixteen hour days. I’d work data, QA others’ results, and generally move us forward.

But I remember sometime midway through Wednesday, with the realization that I wouldn’t be going to the astronomy club that night (just as I’d given up on the train club two nights past) that I had no time and no idea for a DOG EAR piece. My mind was simply locked in construction and interpretation of sheet-after-sheet of data, numbers, dates, failure percentages.

I’ve always said (and you can check prior DOG EAR pieces for confirmation) that a writer can power through anything. Sickness, exhaustion, child-care. If a writer is a writer, he or she can push through any obstacle, even if it means getting up at 4am. There is always a drop of creativity in one’s soul, no matter the exterior circumstances.

Sod that for a game of soldiers.

I was tired, really really tired. Not since my days of data modeling flight simulators for GE was I this tired. And I had no idea what I could write about. I thought about something very much like this piece, detailing my exhaustion and all that, but in the end I just decided to let it go. Things were just too crazy. I went as far Wednesday as booting my computer at 12:30am and sat there squinting at the screen, knowing I had a million unanswered emails and a zillion Facebook rants awaiting my attention (as well as the usual ad-comments on my site that had to be weeded). No, I decided, I was going to bed. I’d count it as, I dunno, a holiday from the site.

On the good side, we made our impossible deadline. I went home Friday and slept the sleep of bricks.