Monday, May 28, 2007

Biting Off More than I Could Chew?

I've recently had a very frustrating episode in my professional life. Back in October I volunteered to write an article for a magazine that is published by a national professional organization. I had a coauthor whom I had never met, but had talked to in conference calls with larger groups. I also employed the assistance of one of the higher-ups in my division, who has over 25 years experience and I knew would be of immense help in this project. The drafts were reviewed and edited by another well-respected colleague. We got the article together and met the deadline, which was early December. I felt pretty good about the article at the time considering it was the first of this length I had written. Jump ahead six months...

I got an email last week from the magazine editor stating that there were problems with the article that would require a fairly significant reworking. First, the article was too short. Never in my academic or professional career had I been told something was too short, so that was a bit of a shock. Granted, it was a little more than 1,000 words short of the suggested length I had been given (admittedly short, not arguing that point). Some editorial suggestions had been made and some requests to flesh out certain areas of the article. Here's what really got me - they wanted it turned around in two weeks. The article was in their possession for almost six months, yet they wanted a major rework turned around in two weeks. I was slightly taken aback, but agreed to do the best I could to accomplish what they were asking. Luckily I had nothing on my plate last week and was able to read, research, and rework all that was asked. I have met the suggested word limit and the draft is now being reviewed by aforementioned esteemed colleague. I will turn it in this week after receiving his comments and suggestions.

Now I find myself questioning my abilities as a writer. Did I bite off more than I could chew in this particular instance? Maybe so. Was it a good learning experience for me? Definitely. I still believe that the magazine's editor could have been more timely in asking for these revisions; I still feel like I was rushed to produce what was asked, but I feel that I did a credible job. This is certainly not going to be my best work, but maybe its a lesson learned for the future.

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