There are only 24 hours in a day. That’s it. Even those people who have a natural need for only 4-5 hours a sleep a night (or even none) can’t get around this time limitation.
Several swift deaths that have happened to people I cared about over the past three years have brought home to me just how priceless the time we are given is. Once Death shows up for you, it’s over. That’s it. We all like to assume we’re going to live into our eighties or later, but there’s no guarantee. And people love to assume that they’ll have lots of time to put their lives in order and do those things they always dreamed about.
Death can kill you in seconds. A stroke can strike you down where you stand and there won’t be time to say, “Goodbye,” or write a couple of poems before it is too late.
Never assume you can wait until retirement to do the things you dream about. People die before they reach retirement all the time. If your dream is to go to Paris before you die, start planning out tiny steps tonight that you take to work towards making that dream a reality sooner rather than later.
I think about time a lot, since I’m in the “squeeze” years. There’s work to do, a family to raise, a house with never-ending repairs to deal with, and writing to do. Several of my hobbies had to be put aside when I started to pursue writing in a serious way–there were only so many hours in a day.
Several months ago, I decided to turn off comments on my blog, because it was either do that or stop blogging all together. I didn’t know what impact it would have, but one of the surprising results was that now my blog thoughts sometimes dig deeper into things. The time I used have to waste wading through spam in the queue instead gets spent thinking and writing the post instead. There is only so much time each week I can devote to a blog, and I was actually surprised at how much a help it was time-wise to have comments off.
Zoe Winters did a post not too long ago about why she turned off comments on her blog, and brings up her reasons why a writer may want to do so. Every writer is different–one writer’s healing potion is another writer’s poison. So each of us will have to experiment to see what works best.
In other news, I stumbled across a wonderful short essay by James Lee Burke on writing, “Seeking a Vision of Truth,” that can give consolation to writers in difficult times. I hadn’t known that his novel The Lost Get-Back Boogie received 110 rejections during nine years of submission. I’ve provided the link to get to it on his website.
Also, musician Jonathan Coulton has done a long thoughtful essay on how he became a success as an indie musician. I think what he has to say also applies to becoming a success as a fiction writer (whether traditional, indie, or a traditional/indie combo).
So, I leave you all with the question, “When Death comes for you, is there anything you’re going to regret having not done? And if the answer is ‘Yes,’ what small steps can you take here and now to change that?”