Friday, August 17, 2012

The Wisest Counselor

There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;        30
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.
- T.S. Eliot, "The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock

"People assume that time is a strict progression from cause to effect. But actually, from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, it's more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey... stuff." - The Doctor, "Doctor Who" (Steven Moffat)

I've been thinking about time lately. Partly because of my recent fixation on certain BBC programs, and partly because after a more-humid-than-usual summer here in New England, I am urging away summer in antipication of fall. And despite my urging, we have another 5 weeks or so before than calendar claims a season change--whether or not the climate agrees will be another story.

And I decided to write about it, not because I have a definitie point to make, but because I need to write about something and I really wanted to use those quotes. So here we are.

We all know time is weird--we're aware that it drags impossibly once you're out of coffee at a staff meeting, and slips impossibly when you're putting off a goodbye. We know that the same seconds that tick on a clockface can thunderously punctuate or sail by unnoticed. But we run our lives by time as though it was a hard and fast rule. (Please don't get concerned--I really do know that DW is just a TV show, and I will continue to get up when my alarm clock tells me to. I'm just ruminating.)

Few of us can get through a day without using some version of, "I don't have time for this." We are impatient at delays, irritable in lines, psychotic in traffic. We twitch and convulse at the question of adding something to a full schedule; we are caught up in the lines that break a pie chart of 24 hours into so many wedges of sleep, email, food, car. Time can stress us out, especially when reminded of the aspects which are inescapably hard and fast: a friend was telling me about interpersonal issues at a family funeral this week, and I wondered how much of it could be boiled down to the fact that death reminds us there is only so much sand left in the hourglass, and we don't know when it will run out. Time is, sadly, not as wibbly-wobbly as The Doctor would have us believe. It is cold and shows no favoritism. There is no alternative but plodding forward, or being dragged.

We do or don't have time. We find it. Take it. Keep it. Make it. Pass it. Waste it. Kill it.
We bide our time. We occasionally get ourselves ahead of time, and even less occasionally are ahead of our own. As we age we find ourselves behind the times, and, of course, we eventually run out it.

It would seem counterproductive to go on too long about this--minutes have vanished since you started reading this--and it seems popular and convenient to end with a command to make the most of it: Carpe Diem, or YOLO for the in-crowd (though I prefer Jack Black's analysis). But I think that ends up stressing us out even more. Maybe just: Enjoy time. Who knows how much we have of it. Spend it wisely, and spend it well.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Going Public

So I found out that I got okayed by Speakeasy... which means I need to act like I'm really disciplined about writing on here. It may also mean that I WILL be more disciplined, as I have a direct incentive to do so: FREE BOOKS! Always a win. Much love to Jenny for the referral.

Of course I've sat here for a few minutes now, wondering what to write about, as I pretend that I write all the time. Two or three people this week have made some sort of, "Well, you're a writer, you know what I'm talking about..." comment, and I keep wanting to correct them. Being a writer isn't really very figurative--you either write or you don't, you either are or you aren't. And, when I get real about it, I don't. I'm not.

I used to write all the time. I couldn't stop. I wrote constantly for school, but would often need to backburner an assignment because my need to write--yeah, I said it--took me in a different direction, and I would scrawl out poetry or short prose from the front desk of the library until I got off from work. I would read what I'd written on my walk home, and then I'd burn the midnight oil to finish whatever actual, real assignment I had. I was a writer, above all other behavioral definitions. Third only to Christian and Romantic, I have always considered myself a writer foremost. But lately... Nothing. Why?

Sure, I "write" all the time: work emails, sales sheets, marketing copy. But that doesn't count and I know it. I've lost the habit, the discipline of it, and it seems oversimple to say that it's that easy but it is. When I do write now--writing for real, to borrow the title of a book from work--it takes an effort that it didn't before. There is no automatic flow, there is no surprise at the way words have flown from brain to paper or screen with a speed and subconscious grace that used to be normal. There is pondering now. Scratching out. Rethinking. Crumbling up and throwing away. There is expectation of excellence and a reality of... less than that. And it's all part of the process, and blah blah blah, but it's irksome--that's really the best word for it.

It's not painful, the way not-writing used to be painful. It doesn't build up as pressure in my head or a tremor in my hand. It can be backburnered now, with "real" work taking priority. It can be ignored and forgotten for weeks at a time. This is the thing that I thought would be my life's passion, my career and my calling, my bread on the table and my pat on the back. This thing, I can let die like the plants on my back step: shriveled and skinny and parched because I never look at them, let alone care for them.

I miss it. I miss having that Thing. The "Oh, I work in marketing, but my real passion is---" Thing. All the great characters have that line. And I used to. Don't get me wrong, there are benefits to this: I really do love my job, more than I ever expected to love the 9-5 thing. I expected--planned--to do something to earn the rent, and then hurry home to do what I love. And so when I thoroughly enjoy doing what I do at work, does that change what I can do at home? I would trust the answer is no--but my life says otherwise.

There are basic ways to shift this back into gear. Again, it's not complicated. More time reading and less on Netflix. More time sitting down in front of the blank page and pushing through the door of "that's not important enough." Getting plugged in to a group of writers. None of these things are hard, or expensive, or sacrificial.

So why don't I do them?

Step 1: Going public. Accountability--which is an awfully fancy word for requesting a guilt trip--can go a long way. So I'm publicizing this a little more than usual.

So if you're new to my bloggy-blog, HI. Welcome. Take a look around. Comment. And make me feel like a jerk if I haven't written in the next 3 days. (That goes for you, too, regulars.) Seriously. A jerk.