Tomorrow it will be 900 days since The Temporal Lisle came to me in a flash.
I suspect I’ve spent 800 of those days doing nothing but suffering over the struggle.
Though the battle with Resistance is never won, I have been writing steadily for weeks. There are 16 chapters left to write. That’s not much. Yesterday I realized I’d left a major character hanging in limbo; they walk offstage and simply disappear. It took four short chapters to resolve their story in a way that organically served the larger story, and I wrote it all in a single sitting.
Come November 3, 2018, the 3rd anniversary of the burst of creativity, this book will already be published and selling well.
And the next one ain’t gonna take three years.
Maggie knew her father hadn’t meant her to fall. When he pushed her into the room to pull her door closed she had stumbled over the rug, hitting her head against the corner of the oak armoire. The sound of his own heavy boots must have covered the noise of her fall, for why else would he have locked the door and walked away without first determining that she was unhurt?
Weak and wobbly, she pulled herself up by the massive knobbed handles on the doors of the armoire, then stumbled to her bed, more falling than sitting. Her head didn’t hurt, but the spinning wouldn’t stop. Closing her eyes helped. She rubbed her temples, which didn’t.
Her stomach reminded her that she was stuck here until supper. It seemed hours since she’d fallen, but since supper was promptly at six and her father’s quite unreasonable burst of anger had befallen her at five, she had not long to wait.
Normally comfortable, her boots pinched, as if she’d had them on too long. She drew her feet up on the bed one at a time to unlace them, dropping them on the floor. Another wave of dizziness lurched through her stomach. She rubbed her temples, eyes closed.
As the dizziness passed, she stopped rubbing and opened her eyes. Surely it must be near six.
Her clock read 4:15.
She must have forgotten to wind it this morning. It was her habit to wind it each day, but as is the case with habits, it had become unconscious, automatic, and so she didn’t remember winding it. May as well wind it now, estimating the correct time, and set it properly from the hall clock downstairs before bed tonight.
It was ticking. The clock was ticking when she picked it up. She had indeed wound it this morning. But why was the time wrong? It was not old. Her father had given it to her in the spring upon his return from the city. Surely it would keep better time than this.
Yet something was amiss. The ticking of the clock was clear in her ears and her fingers.
And now it pointed most definitely at 4:14.
Maggie returned the clock to its place on the table and felt behind her for the bed, climbing up to sit crosslegged, head bowed, face in her hands. She rubbed her temples, rubbed her eyes, shook her head, pinched her cheeks, tugged at the shorter hair in front of her ears.
Wiping her eyes, she looked again at the clock.
In Vagabonding traveler and author Rolf Potts talks about choosing how we define wealth. Rather than assuming that “wealth” and “money” are the same thing, he suggests measuring wealth in what we value. Wild concept, I know.
I would love to have more money for things like a trip to Ireland or new tires on the car or a new instrument (still deciding between octave mandolin and mandocello, but it looks like I’ll have plenty of time to ponder it.)
It’s not what I value most. Every time discontent creeps in I remind myself that I have plenty of the stuff live is made of: time.
I rarely wake to an alarm.
Nearly every day, I play some kind of game with my daughter, the last of our 7 children still at home.
Every day, I cook three interesting meals for my wife while she runs the business.
Every day in February, I’ve written a song. Every single day. And recorded a demo thereof.
Deadlines are almost unknown around here. A day off only requires balancing personal needs or desires with what’ll have to be done tomorrow.
Want to spend August in northern Wisconsin (highs in the low 70s) instead of southern Arizona (highs in triple digits and humid as an old sock)? Arrange our work schedule to allow it, plan for gas, the primary expense, and go. (Our travel requires two other factors, a location-independent business [check] and oodles of friends to stay with to avoid expensive hotel bills [check] but those didn’t happen by accident either.)
Today I’m worried about money. Ausoma has lost two big clients (they love us, but need to get other things done before they come back and work with us again) and for the first time, rent for the 1st of the month isn’t a slam dunk. It always works out. Always. We both have faith, Best Beloved and I, and it always works out.
So today, I’m going to enjoy the time I have and not worry about what I don’t.
We sat in the dark back seat, watching the digital clock (made of actual light bulbs) atop the bank in Chula Vista. It was a long red light. We’d seen the time change from 7:03 to 7:04 and all four of us started counting the seconds until it changed again.
Quietly, in the back seat: “57, 58, 59” and then, not quietly at all, the four of us shouting “Now!”
At that moment, the left turn light changed to green.
Dad stomped on the gas.
We weren’t in the left turn lane.
It was too easy.
The intense moment of exhilaration passed, leading to saner thoughts. Reason, not emotion.
Perhaps I had only delayed their meeting, not prevented it altogether. Return to 2019 and see what family history said? Certainly, but if you’re already at the store you don’t go home to see if there’s something else on your shopping list.
He had seen me. She had not.
Rushing through the crowd as rudely as I’d pretended to be to my grandfather, I saw her. May as well follow her to be sure.
Up East Lane toward Main she moved in and out of sight, the crowds from the train station being thicker here. The crowds dispersed at Main Street, walking east or west or climbing into carriages or sparkling automobiles. Once we crossed Main Street she and I were virtually alone. She turned left on Oak Lane, as I’d assumed she would.
Before we got to the grand Victorian at the corner of Oak and Third, she stopped, whirled, and came back my direction. Since she had no reason to know who I was, I simply continued walking, and made as if to pass her, tipping my grubby cap as she approached.
“Why are you following me?” Her voice was loud in the empty street.
I tried to step past, tried to remain calm. This was not what I’d expected.
“Why should I follow you, madame? I’m simply enjoying the sunshine and fresh air, and we happened to be going the same direction. I apologize if I startled you.”
I took another step. She blocked my way.
“You were at the station. I saw you accost that man. Now you’re following me. I ask again, why?”
Time for action, not words. I tried to step around her but she grabbed my arm. I put my hand on her wrist, trying to gently pull it from my own, but her grip was stronger than I’d expected.
“Take your hands off her, you thug.”
Surprised, I let go and turned to face the speaker, whose voice I recognized, of course. My grandmother covered her mouth with her free hand. A tiny squeal escaped past her fingers.
My grandfather, for the second time that day, punched me square in the face. This time it was hard enough to knock me down, bloodying my face. By the time I got up and cleared my vision, they were gone.
So that’s how you want to play it, eh, Time? I accept the challenge.
I set out to prevent my grandparents’ marriage, even if it killed me.
Yes, the book was “done” last Friday.
And yes, I’ve said it before: no art is ever finished, but at some point you have to be done.
Unless you’ve built a car with no brakes or a chair without legs.
My omission was less obvious, but still critical. I always run my manuscripts through a marvelous tool called AutoCrit before throwing them over the transom to Tom’s office.
Chapter 1 went live on January 31st (because that’s when I wrote it.)
I’d had the first sentence rattling around in my head for decades. I typed it, for something to do, and the rest of the first chapter came out as if I’d already written it.
The way it ended, I knew I had to keep going.
“Going” is right. In 58 days I wrote 56 chapters. During that time we also moved everything we owned into storage in order to move out of the house we rented before we left for a month-long business trip, which we also had to pack and prepare for, while maintaining some semblance of our normal life.
When people tell me they don’t have time to write, I marvel. Continue reading “Finishing”
When I was young, I was always late. I’ve spent half a lifetime working to develop punctuality and it seems to be improving.
Aggravating the problem was how I handled being late. The lesson I learned when I made the following change has led to a major reduction in my business stress.
When I was late, all I did was hurry more to try to be less late. Of course, people were always waiting, and once you’re late, being less late than you might have been really doesn’t help much. You know what does help?
Fiction author Edgar Rice Burroughs was a prolific writer, publishing nearly 70 novels in his 75 years. Burroughs was the creator of Tarzan, a much better series of books than the video representations and popular culture would lead you to believe. He also wrote the story of John Carter of Mars which is finally coming out of the obscurity it never deserved. He wrote seven different science fiction adventure series besides numerous western and historical fictions. His work revels in experimentation, with the question, “What if things were very different from what we believe them to be?”