Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Myth of Time

One of the common myths that stands between people and completed manuscripts is the myth of 'time.' I'm sure you've heard it. "If I just had the time, I'd be able to Write My Novel." But our time is a limited resource, consumed by forty-hour-a-week jobs with hour commutes each way and all the other obligations of the business of living. If only, one sighs, one could have time to oneself, time to write without all those pesky distractions, then one could finally write that novel that one has been promising oneself that one would, one day.

One is, of course, bullshitting oneself. The beautiful thing that NaNoWriMo did for me--and, I'm sure for many others--is thoroughly debunk that myth. The raw material for the novel I'm trying to hammer into a publishable form was drafted in the space of two separate months of do-or-die typing (supplemented with some scribbling to allow me to keep the plot on track) while still holding down a job and everything else.

The problem for me now is that I have no deadlines on the revision process, and thus it has been dragging on for over a year and counting. And now one of the most prominent excuses--that forty-hour-a-week-job-thingy--has been removed from me as of last month. (Yes, hello, I've joined the ranks of Victims of the Economy. We'll not go into details here.) This has forced me to confront the flip side of the "time" myth--the fact that even when one does have the time to spare, the time has a curious habit of slithering down other channels instead of flowing towards the novel itself.

Which is not to say that I've done nothing on it at all. In between hunting for a job and working on some other projects, I've continued to work on tightening the dialogue in certain scenes. And, as unproductive as it may seem, I've been thinking about it. I've been turning things over in my head, asking questions about the characters, pondering things that could be seen as inconsistencies and trying to understand or resolve them.

There is, I understand, only so much thinking I can do before I have to sit the hell down and turn my bright ideas into words. And, as time goes on, fewer and fewer excuses for not doing so. (On second thought, that's probably not true; like most people I am capable of manufacturing a nearly limitless number of excuses.) So we'll see. Knowing my luck, I'll probably wind up getting hired or something just when I'm getting into the groove of having this kind of time to work with.


Anonymous said...

I came here from Whatever to give you encouragement. I am also a writer and working on a novel. You can share your pain with more people just like us at Writer's Beat:

smsarber said...

Oh yes! I hear you load and clear! Surgery and illness have left my thirty-two year, eleven month, and twenty-eight day old body disabled. I too have the TIME to write, but little pain in the ass things get in the way.

Check out my blog if you like, yours is great!

smsarber said...

Damn typo!!! That was supposed to read "loud" and clear. Fuc*!

Jaguar X said...

Hey Sheila, it looks like
we have a title in common,
The Myth of Time is the movie we've been
filming over the past 5 years in Guatemala.

I liked what you say here. Come check out our blog