Deadlines in December

by Yule Heibel on December 26, 2006

We celebrate holidays in December because it’s a remnant from our agricultural past (fields fallow, stocks laid in, days too short to work outside), and we celebrate holidays in August because that’s a remnant from our industrial past (too hot to keep the factories humming, etc. etc.). This, I read somewhere, and now can’t remember where.

The next article I have coming out in Focus magazine in a few days has a working title of “Discovering Changes.” That’s a play on word-meanings, of course. One can discover changes, and one can be changed by discovering. The editors have altered my titles in the past, so I’m not sure whether they’ll let this one stick — it doesn’t matter.

What matters is that I was quite pleased with myself for getting this particular article in (for January publication) on the December 1 deadline — I suspect it’s a largely arbitrary deadline, as a previous one moved, seemingly erratically, from the first of the month before publication to the 5th to the 12th and so on. I think I got the “first of the month” deadline as a way of keeping me on a short leash; the magazine’s other writers seem to be polishing their words as late as mid-month.

But, that’s ok: if I get the thing done, it’s out of my hair (perhaps, unless there are requests for edits).

I really wanted to get this next one (for the February issue) out in time, too: Jan.1 or as close to. I reason that if I’m not struggling with an article till the last minute, I may be able to see my way clear to getting additional work done. But like some proverbial farmer, I don’t really want to be hoeing a row of words out there on the blank white page. It’s so bloody dark, for one thing. And cold, too.

I do have ideas laid down aplenty, though: even though I started working on something altogether different now, the “Tourist ‘I'” angle is still alive for a future article. And of course there’s shopping/ retail: I’m currently engrossed in Jan Whitaker’s Service and Style — I’m a bit irritated by how the book is organised, but it’s a treasure trove of priceless information and analysis. Really excellent. And I’m reading Jan Gehl (see this page and this one, too), thinking about Shrinking Cities, and exploring “Downtown” in the Places Journal.

And for kicks (and intellectual stimulation), because he’s just so damned good, there’s always James Lileks‘s site with its seemingly endless links to ephemera as well as nuggets (and photographs) of urban wisdom (even of the no longer extant variety). For all of you munching down xmas leftovers and gagging on that last rum ball, surf over to his Gallery of Regrettable Food, where 50s and 60s culinary advice gets a well-deserved thrashing. I came for his excellent “urban studies” section, and didn’t go there to gorge, but of course I did….

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