Tuesday, January 06, 2015

100 Years Wiser

A hundred years ago or so, back in  2006, I was a spankin' new writer eagerly devouring every word, written or otherwise, I could get on the subject.  On one particular blog, not too different from this one, a published author posted a picture of herself in a hammock overlooking an astoundingly beautiful beach in Costa Rica. On her lap, in the hammock, was a laptop and she was blissfully writing away, unaware her husband was snapping the picture. The caption said something along the lines of her finding time to write even on vacation. The whole photo was a beautiful sentiment.

...and it torqued me off!

So I got on my own blog - a rather new invention to me at the time - and penned my thoughts. They were as follows.

"Manufacturing Time

There's a saying, an old standby, that we've all heard.

'You make time for what you want to do.'

I beg to differ!

Sometimes, that simply is not true. As anyone who has ever worked 12 hour rotating shifts in a mine, pulled green-chain for 14 hours in a lumber mill, or worked three jobs to support a family of four on minimum wage. I'm sure they'll agree with me. That old cliche is not always accurate. Not that I mean to play the devil's advocate, but there is one simple fact that cannot be overlooked.

You cannot manufacture time.

All you get is twenty-four hours, seven days a week. No more, no less. Within that time frame lies everything that must be accomplished to live day to day. No matter how hard you try, there will always be something demanding your time and attention. And, unless you are one of the blessed few, the most crucial item on your list of priorities will probably not ever be your writing.

I'd like to thank Willard Boyd Gardner for bursting my little bubble on this particular subject. As a friend and i were rhapsodizing about the day we could quit our respective jobs and write all we wanted to, he gave us some words of wisdom.

'You've got t realize,' he said, 'it's going to be a while before you can make a living by wriitng. You're not going to be able to just quit your job right away. Probably not for years.'

Hardly te unbridled optimism I was hoping for, but still a well-placed reality adjustment.

Face it, Bill's right.

You make time for what must be done; a career with a reliable paycheck, time for you family, food on the table and roof overhead. It's the reality of living. In the words of John Lennon, 'Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.'  In other words, no one should ever feel guilty for putting survival higher on the 'must do' list than writing.

However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it's a bright one. Unclaimed moments occur all over in between the pressing matters of everyday living, and they are time that we can borrow for what we want; to write! 

As an example, do I absolutely need a hot lunch, when that few minutes waiting for the microwave in the break room could be spent writing? This is why I scribbled down the notes for this article while scarfing down cold macaroni and cheese. Two hours of my eleven hour workdays are spent in the car, time with nothing but me and Ford on the open road, where I can talk to myself, planning whole pages of dialogue, and no one there to think I've lost my mind for doing it.

So, despair not O Writer with a Full Time Job!

Just learn to like cold macaroni and cheese."


In the days and months following this post, I got to know the author that was the subject of that photograph that started all this. She is not, I'm happy to report, the spoilt so&so that I made my mind up she was from that picture. She is a hard working, witty, and intelligent author who I have come to respect at the utmost. And I can honestly say I was, and still am, thrilled to see her career fly the way it has with her latest, very successful series of books!

However As I re-read this, after finding it tucked away in a closet in a notebook I'd all but forgotten existed, I came to realize one thing...

I was right.

Nothing's changed, except maybe my level of torque, and those words ring as true nine years later. The big difference lies with me.

As a writer I've mellowed as I've gleaned experience. I can't write feverishly every moment of every day, and that's okay.  We don't, as writers, need to feel guilty when other things come along that take away from our blessed writing time. It's okay.  Having, or even liking, to do other things does not brand you forever as disloyal to the craft!  For me, it was something of a hard learned lesson. It doesn't have to be for you, you really can take my word for it.

Write feverishly when you can, learn every chance you get from others who are willing to share their wisdom through conferences, blogs, and websites, but most of all enjoy your journey to writerhood!

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