It's a Thing: Deadline Week at San Diego Magazine
What we're talking about in the office this week
Watch out, I'm wielding my red pen.
We are on deadline, which means I am in comfy stretch pants and chained to my desk for at least three days and three nights.
Typically I gain 5 lbs. this week through stress eating, late-night bingeing, and not getting up because I'm chained to my desk. But I love it. The editorial team and I make each other laugh trying to summarize big features into short, grabby coverlines. We order gross food and eat our feelings as we part with the photos and passages we love but don’t have room for.
This is the week where we have to come up with all the headlines that we’ve put off for a month saying, “I’ll think of something brilliant later” and delete some of what we’ve written, saying, “I’ll cut that down to 250 words later.” Well, now is later. We must be clever and concise and “kill our darlings.” It takes concentration. So I tell the staffers that aren’t on deadline (sales, marketing, etc.) to pleasepleaseplease not bring their dogs or visitors or newborns for show-and-tell. I actually had to put a moratorium on the use of squeaky dog toys (for those dogs that inevitably come to work anyway). What’s working against us now is the din from a demolition project across the street. No less than eight (8!) excavators are wandering the lot below while some sort of drill dismantles the remains of a building, rock by rock. For more reasons than one, we’re looking forward to seeing what developer Bosa will bring.
Back to deadline. When I started at San Diego Magazine seven years ago, everyone called it “Deadline” as in, “We have Deadline this week.” I might be on deadline, but I’m old school and call it “shipping,” since in my early publishing days we were still FedExing CD-Roms of the finished product to the printer. (Now we just upload files to our printing press in Liberty, Missouri.) When I worked in NYC, a coworker-friend from Paris always pronounced shipping “sheeping” so every once in a while I walk through our halls clapping my hands and yelling, “sheeping sheeping sheeping” and everyone thinks I’m nuts.
Another cool thing—the order that we finish doesn’t matter. So we can upload page 56 before page 5. The easy ones go first. And that way we can continue to say, “I’ll think of something brilliant later” for the pages that have a big TK (“TK” stands for “to come”).
The hardest thing that I always put off is choosing the final cover image and committing to coverlines. I hem and haw and don’t enjoy it one bit. I had an easier time selecting a wedding gown. Even deciding on my son’s first name. This is agony. So when you reach for that issue at Vons, think of all the hemming and hawing and cold pizza and TK-ing and shutting out of construction noise that went into this.
Sheeping. It’s a thing.