Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Cave Men, Writing Time, Asimov and Captain Kirk
I once read a short story by Asimov called "Writing Time" that I really found fascinating. I mean, most of his short stories were pretty thought provoking, but this one really struck a chord with me as a teenage wannabe writer. The gist is that there is a guy who is constantly waiting for cabs, waiting in line for elevators, walking home or to the store, etc. His dearest wish is to have more time to write. He happens to have a friend with a sort of genie, so his friend makes a wish that the guy will have plenty of writing time.
Suddenly, he never has to wait for anything. There are never lines, cabs follow him around in case he needs a ride, every appointment is on the first floor, doctors take him right away, etc. The result is that he can't write a word because during all of that waiting and drudgery he was doing the real work of writing in his mind. Without that time to stand around with nothing else to do, he had no ideas and stopped writing completely.
I think that dissecting that situation and looking at my own has taught me a lot more about what and how I write than sitting and staring at a computer has over the years. That's one reason that the excessive use of cell phones really gets to me. It's stealing your writing time. No more, no less.
Over the past few weeks, it's started occurring to me that we really don't have much more real time than cave men did. Now, I think about cave men a lot, and I mean a lot. I actually think about them more than I do about Captain Kirk, which is probably way too often for good mental health. I've started thinking that the time we spend on staying alive longer is waaaay more than we realize, and that if you take away all of that time, what you really have left is the time that cave men had because they didn't have very many strategies for that. Buying and taking supplements? No. Getting car checked out, strapping on seat belts, going for checkups, picking up prescriptions, getting the heater worked on, paying the insurance bill, etc., etc., etc. take up a lot of our time each day. If you don't believe it, for one day pay attention to everything you do to stay in good health and/or to live longer. If you subtracted all of that time from your life, you'd pretty much be left with the 25 or so years that cave men had. Cave men!
What is the moral here? I really don't have one. Sorry about that. Maybe only that time is a funny thing. Whether it's dealing with garbage collection/washing vegetable/insert other good habits or standing around thinking or wondering what Captain Kirk would do, your lifetime will be spent somehow. It's up to you whether you spend that time getting some decent writing done or simply dealing with life in an effort to get more time to write.