Thanks to everyone for weighing on on the great fall TV choices! I'm sorry I haven't had a chance to respond to all of the comments - crazy day in my parts - and needless to say, I had to settle in to watch The Office (sob, poor Jim!!!), Grey's and Ugly Betty tonight. :) But I'll try to respond tomorrow....
Question of the day: I'm curious to hear how much trouble you think I caused for myself. I got my first assignment from a pretty big magazine, and due to a variety of circumstances, I missed my deadline. My editor said that she understood, and I did get the story into her a week later, but she hasn't assigned anything to me since. How badly did I screw up?
On the richter scale of badly? Well, if I were your editor, I'd say pretty badly. (And that pains me to say because this blog is all about being supportive to writers, but sometimes, I have to deliver the cold truth.) The good thing is, is that I'm NOT your editor, so I can't say for sure.
But I will tell you this: for me and to me, deadlines are non-negotiable. If you've agreed to meet one, then you meet one. Barring major out-of-your-hands catastrophes such as childbirth, a death in the family, complete and total computer meltdowns, being sent off to war...you get the idea...there's really no excuse to miss a deadline. I've been freelancing for about five-six years, and I can honestly say that I have never missed one. Really. I have had two situations in which experts bailed on me at the last minute (this, over the course of half a decade), and immediately informed my editors of the situation, and got the story to them within 24 hours of the pre-established deadline. So really...you're not going to get a lot of sympathy from me for blowing past yours. (Wow, I feel like Miss Snark here with the tough love.)
Here's the thing: deadlines are there for a reason. Editors work on a schedule, and they count on you to help ensure that this schedule hums along. When you fail to file your story on the designated day, you risk throwing your editor's life (okay, not life, but at least day or week) to the dogs. And really, who wants to be the one to do that? And meeting deadlines also gets back to something I've mentioned earlier on the blog: to be taken seriously as a writer, you have to be a consummate professional. Guess what? Not delivering when you said that you would is the opposite of professional, and if I were the editor, I wouldn't work with you again. (God, I'm harsh today!)
One thing that successful writers know in the back of their minds is that, like actors or even athletes, for whom there is a full bench of players waiting to take their place, we are expendable. If you don't have the gusto or the savvyness (is that a word?) or the wherewithal to come through for your editor, someone else will. So don't be the one to drop the ball. End of discussion.
Now, if you really, really want to get back in this editor's good graces, I suppose that it wouldn't hurt to send her a note of apology, explain the circumstances that led to your error, and promise that it won't happen again. If she's kind (and she likes your work), she just might move past it. But if she doesn't get back to you, consider it a lesson learned and then move on. And don't let it happen again.
What do you think? Am I being too hard on this reader? Have you guys blown deadlines and lived to tell about it?