Some people have nightmares about drowning or being kidnapped or falling off a cliff. On the rare occasions when I have nightmares, they are usually about being late. Maybe that's why I am so very good about keeping my deadlines.
But I'm not quite as good as I used to be, and my occasional sloppiness can be traced back to a conversation I had with the art director of a children's magazine several years ago. For the first time in my long relationship with him I was going to be a couple of days late with the final artwork for an assignment. I sent him a note apologizing profusely and said I'd have the illustration ready no later than two days after the original deadline. He said, "Don't worry about it; I'm still waiting to get rough sketches from several other artists for this issue and their final art will be weeks late."
Weeks late? Weeks late? Being weeks late for anything had never crossed my mind as even a remote possibility. But other artists were routinely that late...and they still got work?
Perhaps this art director shouldn't have been so honest with me. Maybe it wasn't a good thing to learn that not every other artist/author holds to the same strict policy of making deadlines as I do...or did. Because since then, my record for being punctual hasn't been as spotless. Oh, I still hate to miss a deadline, even by a day or two, but when it happens, I don't think that my career will be over.
Was this a good thing to learn? I'm not so sure.