Before Christmas


(Mood: Stressed)

Being in denial about Christmas just got a little harder today. It’s the first Sunday in december, many people light the first candle and have already hung up christmas stars and other lights in the windows.

Lights, candles, glögg and cookies are cosy and well needed after a long and dark November.

This post could stop here and I could wish you a merry and joyful pre-christmas time. The problem is that exactly this time can also be the most stressful time of the year. Apart from the obvious stress factor of figuring out the practical aspects around Christmas we are talking about the season of the ultimate deadline, the deadline of all deadlines:

Before Christmas.

For scientists this often means submission of a manuscript. Or hey, let’s have the first version of the manuscript ready anyway. Ok, can we finish all the experiments then? So you can write the actual manuscript between Christmas and New Year?

Been there, done that. The year was 2001 and I snuggled up in my parents sofa with a glass of wine and wrote the manuscript of my first first-author paper.

One year later, the day before New Year’s Eve 2002, in the ages before electronic submission, me and my PhD supervisor went to the FedEx-terminal at Arlanda to submit the revised manuscript to Cell. The whole group had been working extremely hard to address more than 20 concerns raised by the three reviewers (reviewer three being the worst, of course). We took time off at Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but then we were back at the computers in a joined effort.

I’ll never forget that big fat high five in the car after resubmission. How often do you resubmit a paper to Cell in your life? Never again, in my case.

In my new life as a science journalist the days of scientific manuscripts or experiments getting done before Christmas are long gone. But guess what?

Same same but different.

I have plenty of texts and podcasts that should be done before Christmas. Or hey, let’s have the first draft ready, that would be nice. Ok, can I at least do the interview? And then write up the material during the days between Christmas and New Year? And send out the text to the interviewees for fact checking right after new year? Or let’s face it, after the 6th of January, nobody works before that anyway and the editor won’t even look at the text.

Story of my life. Every year.

So light a candle, have some glögg and cookies and embrace the light and the deadlines.

Guestblogger Natalie von der Lehr is a freelance science writer, podcast producer and coach for the KI-blog team.

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