Carpe diem

It’s taken a while, but I think I’m settled in to my new routine. For the first time this week I actually got work done on The Swan Harp on a day when I was also working in the call centre. I’m working on an important scene near the end of the story, and I was able to settle to it and write in a small amount of time that I’d scheduled for that.

This is a breakthrough for me because although I’ve been good about protecting writing time, I haven’t been good about scheduling it. This means that I didn’t write at the same time every day, a practice many writers advocate. Now I’m going to have to do that, because for five days a week the only time I know I’ll have is an hour in the morning.

It’s hard on Sky, too, because she has to get used to a different routine as well. Before I took this job, I’d be available to play with her whenever she came and asked. She didn’t badger me all the time, and when she did ask, I’d quit what I was doing and play with her. I could come back in twenty minutes or half an hour and get on with what I was doing. Now I can’t do that, so her playtime is also scheduled. What’s worse for her, I’m away twelve hours a day, and unavailable for those impromptu playtimes we used to have. I miss them, too. I get breaks at work, but I don’t have Sky with me, and I can’t take her out and throw the ball, or say “Silly puppy!” when she rolls on the driveway and kicks her feet. As Sky has been my main companion since March 2010, this is a big loss for both of us.

I’m also learning how to write more efficiently. If I have four articles to do in a week, or a poem and a couple of blog posts and an article, I can’t waste a lot of time. I keep idea files more regularly now. If I thought of something before, I might or might not write it down – after all, it would come back to me, and chances are that when it did, I’d be in a position to act on it. Now I probably won’t, so I keep better notes. They’re not always organized, but at least the idea is written down – somewhere… Fortunately it’s as true of writing as of anything else that you do get better with practice. Twenty years ago I couldn’t have done this. Maybe I couldn’t have done it four years ago. Now I definitely can.

There’s a Latin phrase I like – “Carpe diem”. It means “Seize the day” – do it now, take the time you have and wring it dry. I like it better as I get older. I’ll be fifty-eight in January, and I’m well aware that my time is limited. I’m thinking I’ll just write that phrase on the wall of my office over my desk to remind myself that time is fleeting, and that this hour at the keyboard may be all I have today.

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