Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Demon Called Time

By Chester Campbell

My in-house (meaning in computer) dictionary lists the first definition of demon as “An evil supernatural being.” As for time, how about this: “A nonspatial continuum in which events occur in apparently irreversible succession from the past through the present to the future.” Does that sound supernatural, or what?

As for evil, the darned thing resists all efforts to pin it down to accommodate my needs.

I’ve never had a problem with what is familiarly known as “writer’s block.” Lately I’ve been wondering about it, however, since my efforts at writing a new book for the past couple of months or more has produced less than 20,000 words. After further reflection, I’ve concluded it’s that old demon time.

Yesterday I sat myself down and firmly laid out the law: you will write for four hours a day, period. Maybe 9:00 to 11:00 in the morning, then 1:00 to 3:00 in the afternoon. So I wrote last night from about 7:00 to 9:00.

Hmm, something doesn’t sound quite right here.

It is now 1:00 p.m. today (Tuesday) and I have yet to boot up my laptop, where said book resides. The first problem was I didn’t shuffle out of bed until nine o’clock. The previous morning we were up at 3:00 a.m. ready to take our grandson to the emergency room coughing his head off (at least it seemed to be rolling around the bed). After considerable discussion and administering a last-ditch pill, we finally got him settled down, but the night’s sleep was hopelessly muddled.

By the time we were navigating this morning, two more moppets (my wife’s great-grandkids) had arrived for the day, being on Fall Break from the next county’s schools. I checked my email, answered a couple of pressing messages, and was just getting started writing this blog when the time arrived (there’s that old demon) to shuttle everybody over to a relative’s apartment so Sarah and I could meet grandson’s teachers for a conference.

Now I’m about to take a lunch break. If I’m lucky, I’ll get this finished and posted in time to spend a couple of hours writing on my novel. But first I need to hit the bank and the post office. By the time I’m done with a brief writing session, Sarah will be calling me to eat before heading for my bimonthly writers group meeting. After that, I’ll be checking homework until time for the ten o’clock news (and the recorded 5:30 national news, which lasts little more than 20 minutes after zapping commercials). Then it’ll be bedtime.

I remember back years ago when I thought retirement would bring time to accomplish whatever needed to be done in a relaxed environment. Boy, was I misguided in my thinking. Now I can’t imagine how I was ever able to hold down a fulltime job. I read about authors who get up at 5:00 a.m. and write for three hours before going to work. If I did that, I would have to compensate by taking a three-hour nap in the afternoon.

Hmm. I may do that anway.

But I have to finished this blog and get it posted. Oh, well, maybe the answer is to do like Tim Hallinan, head for Phnom Penh, plunk down my laptop in a coffee shop, and write till I’m finished. Somehow I don’t think that’s in the cards.

It’s now past 1:30. Where did that old demon go?


Sheila Deeth said...

Just tell yourself the time-takers are inspiration-makers.

Jean Henry Mead said...

I know exactly what you mean, Chester. Only my problem is blogging (5 of them) and trying to decide which ones to let go. I arrive at my computer between 7-8 each morning, answer a mountain of email and start blog research and writing. I write 1,000 words a day on one of my WIPs, if I'm lucky. Something's got to go.

Chester Campbell said...

I got a little writing done last night, but today has been a disaster. I did Meals on Wheels and printed folders to hand out at the Southern Festival of Books this weekend. Then I had to babysit three moppets while Sarah did grocery shopping. If that inspired something, Sheila, it was probably murder.

Jean Henry Mead said...

I always thought retirement meant rocking on the front porch and visiting with the neighbors. I now find that I'm as busy as when I was raising five children. What happened to the "golden years?" :)