Guidelines and Deadlines

Have you ever been so stressed out that it stresses you out that you’re stressed?

My work just dropped a huge bomb on the staff, basically changing the nature of our jobs and increasing out workload under the guise of “making your jobs easier and more efficient.” My job has gone from one clear purpose to muddied with several other roles and responsibilities that were never supposed to be mine. No one is sure what to expect or what their job is anymore. This isn’t supposed to take effect for awhile, and that makes it even worse, because we have no idea when the ax is going to fall. My coworkers and I left that meeting like a bomb had just gone off.

In a way, this is why I love submission guidelines and publisher deadlines. There’s a clear list of what’s expected and what’s required. Some of them can be broad but they’re rarely vague. They let the writer know how the work should be shaped and formed, how it should be organized and submitted. And, deadlines are a thing of beauty. It’s a clear and concise date, a day later is too late, an hour later is still too late. I can set up my workload based on these deadlines and can move ahead with a clear goal.

Right now, I’m staving off a quiet panic attack by drinking Tension Tamer and reminding myself that all things can be weathered, even with unclear instructions and fuzzy due dates.


Published by Ren Martinez

Ren is a thirty-something Lost Boy whose personal aesthetic is “suspected of witchcraft by local villagers.” She subscribes to cheerful nihilism, the destruction of the patriarchy, and the belief that glitter makes everything better. She is a Richmond-based writer and performer who has fiction and non-fiction work found in a variety of publications, such as The Mary Sue, RVA Magazine, The Quotable, and Nostrovia Press. She is currently the fiction editor and a regular contributor at Quail Bell Magazine. She is also the co-host of the podcast, This F***ing Guy! Find out more at or read her dumbass tweets on Twitter @itsrenmartinez

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