Deadline

Jessica Keaton
Johnson, Big Dead Place, 217-233, Creative Assignment

Deadline

From: Franklin, Louisa Sent: 10/26/2009 8:31 AM
To: Keaton, Jessica
Re: Newspaper?!?!

Jessica,

Haven’t heard anything from you this morning about the newspaper. What’s the status?

LF

From: Keaton, Jessica Sent: 10/26/2009 11:37 AM
To: Franklin, Louisa
Re: Newspaper?!?!

Mrs. Franklin,

Don’t worry…everything is under control. We should still make deadline by Tuesday.

-Jessica

If she only knew the past twenty-four hours I’ve had, she wouldn’t be so calm. I walked into the newspaper office at the bottom of Appleby Center at my designated time to finish layout for my pages and check for errors throughout the rest of the pages. The light inside the small, white walled room was off, with no sign of visitors.
-This can’t be good.
Shelves of multi-colored yearbooks dating all the way back to the ‘60s lined the shelves of the carpeted room we shared with the yearbook staff. Looking on the large table, I saw copies of last month’s issue spread out along the sides of the table. Pages were separated, looking fumbled and mixed up. Gingerly, I picked up what I considered one of my first children and put the pages back in order.
I made my way to the computer facing the window overlooking the campus. By this time, it was dark and cold outside, dimly lit by orange streetlights. As I sat on the swiveling chair, it instantly dropped three inches lower.
-We’ve really got to get a new chair.
Placing my fingers on the black keys of the PC, a thin slit of pink paper found my fingertips. It read:
–Jessica: sorry I didn’t get finished with my pages. I haven’t gotten all my articles in yet. Still waiting. I did as much as I could. –K.
-Damnit!
Moving the mouse side-to-side, the screen turned from black to white in seconds, revealing the blank front page of the newspaper. This was to be expected. The front page was mine to finish, but the emptiness startled my brain. I sighed and clicked on the next pages. Two and three were also mine, and, like the first page, were empty. Page four was halfway done, with pictures lining the outside of the page. Some text was in the middle of it, but it was not finished by a long shot. Page five had a similar layout, but less content. Trying to hold back my frustration, I clicked on the next two pages. Page seven was completely blank and luckily, page six was complete other than a couple of blank spots at the bottom of the page.
-Ok, this could be so much worse.
Flipping to page eight, I began to feel a knot tie up in my stomach. It was completely blank as well. Looking down at my cell phone, I noticed a blinking letter on my screen.
-Maybe this is good news.
–Can you help me with my page? I know I’m supposed to have it done already, but I have a test tomorrow—B.
Clenching my fists, I flipped to the next message.
–Sorry my page isn’t done. I’m working late tonight. I should be there around midnight—L.
-I guess I’m not getting any sleep tonight.
Minimizing the pages, I open a browser and began to send a mass email to all staff writers.

To:….. Sent: 10/25/09 10:24 PM
From: Keaton, Jessica
Re: Articles?????
Hello everyone. I know it’s the end of the semester and everyone is busy with classes, but it is still essential that you get your articles in to me by deadline. Remember, this is still a class and you will be graded on your performance. The articles I’m missing are…

After the massive email, I begin placing what pictures and articles I have on my pages. By 11:00 PM, the front page is flawless and full. About thirty minutes later, B arrives and we post pictures of soccer players kicking goals and articles with softball stats onto the blank canvas. By 12:30, L slams the door open and is ready to finish page seven. The finishing touches for the last page are finished by 12:43 and L. has completed her page by 1:17.

After we’ve said our goodbyes at 1:21, I am alone in the fluorescent lit newspaper room to complete pages two, three, and six. Checking my email one last time before I begin laying out the last pages, I don’t receive any other articles.
-Oh well.
By 2:48, my tasks are complete and I’m free to return to my room to read for my 9:00 English class. It’s something from the middle ages and its tone quickly puts me to sleep by 3:03.

8:00 comes quickly on October nights. Time seems to move more quickly during the latter part of the semester. I jump in the cold shower, letting the chilly droplets hug my skin. By 8:40, my teeth are brushed and clothes are on. Shooting K a quick text before I walk out the door at 8:47, I am relieved to hear that my mass email worked and she has all her articles. She doesn’t have class this morning, so she’s on the way to the newspaper room to finish her pages.

After two hours of Dante, the Civil War, and watching sleepy baseball players dodge early morning questions, I’m back in the newspaper room, reading Mrs. Franklin’s email. Glancing over the finished paper, I respond to her reply:

From: Franklin, Louisa Sent: 10/26/2009 8:31 AM
To: Keaton, Jessica
Re: Newspaper?!?!

Jessica,

Good to hear! I’ll be down to proof it later and we can send it off in the morning.

LF

From: Keaton, Jessica Sent: 10/26/2009 11:37 AM
To: Franklin, Louisa
Re: Newspaper?!?!

Mrs. Franklin,

Sounds good! Another deadline met! :-D

-Jessica

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4 Responses to Deadline

  1. hsherlock says:

    I really like how you bookend the piece with emails. The tone of the last exchange is humorous in light of the hard work that took place “in the between.” As a business owner, I feel for you. Nothing is more frustrating than people who do not share your vision or really know the meaning of deadline. You also did a nice job of giving us a timeline and it helps us to understand the pressure that haunts such a task as editing a newspaper. I also like your references to time speeding up during certain seasons and semesters. Details like these are nice because you address something that everyone has experienced at one time or another. Nice!

  2. janbun09 says:

    I enjoyed reading what you took from Johnson. The incorporation of emails was a great idea. It is great how you captured the panic and humor of the situation. I liked how you used a situation people have been in before, whether it was having to meet a newspaper deadline or studying for three finals and finishing a huge project all on the same day. I also find the humor in the emial you sent to your staff. You were awfully sweet and calm in the midst of a chaotic situation. I really enjoyed reading it. Great Job!

  3. kukookoko says:

    I love the creative blog and the tone you used. Especially the cussing because it is used throughout the whole book. The tough situation that is presented and carried out through email also can be related to the text considering in Antarctica they communicate all day and night through email and unlike in yours, a lot of vulgar language is used. I find it humorous as well that you are having a crisis and the emails to Mrs. Franklin are like you are as chilled as a cucumber. With definitely proves your ability to hold your composure and emotions in unlike the characters within the novel. I remember this while I was a staff writer. I applaud your skills and ability to keep going.

  4. klcowart says:

    I think this blog very much reflects Johnson’s writing style in Big Dead Place. The situation has many parallels in that this is a requirement and the pressure seems to be getting to everyone. Page after page, your newspaper was a big dead place; white and stressful, just like Antarctica! Also, you use some external elements that effectively reflect this situation: the emphasis of white, the broken chair, your cold shower. One main similarity to your blog and Johnson’s text is the use of capital letters in place of names. Another similarity that Korney already pointed out was your use of curse words (although yours is extremely mild in comparison). Good job for getting the job done, and I hope you never have to do that again!

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