The Pressure of Time on the Modern Writer, or Where did all my time go?

Short answer: The Internet

Long answer: Internet-overloaded brain susceptible to multiple distractions

Back in the good old days when I was an unreconstructed technophobe, I would shut myself in my office after breakfast, refuse to answer the phone or open the front door, and linger blissfully on my novel-in-progress until I felt too hungry to write or my husband came home. In the evenings I’d play the piano or watch the latest convoluted drama on TV then read whatever took my fancy until bedtime.

A month or so ago, after yet another publisher stated that all authors (unless Rich and Famous) whether traditionally published, indie published or thinking about one day being published must be active on social media and miscellaneous internet thingies or accept consignment to the electronic dustbin, I pledged to embrace the New Age of Publishing.

Typically I start the day with a modest plan. I will do a spot of research, get a dollop of social media stuff done, glean further information on the latest changes in publishing, edit five more chapters of my almost-finished novel and maybe start another chapter of my work-in-progress.

A ferret around the web in the name of research ends up with me getting lost in an article on the latest brain discoveries about memory, at a stretch tangentially related to Novel 3. Intending to do a quick catch up on Twitter and maybe get around to retweeting something, I find someone else to follow and a dozen hashtags that look interesting then realise it’s lunch time already and I’ve not tweeted a thing… Next, I scan through the horde of emails about my new followers, favourited this and thats, blogs I’ve subscribed to… Then I read a blog or two, usually linked to some potentially extremely useful internet page that I take a peek at.

On Facebook, everything looks different to last time, my settings need to be changed, my real date of birth has inexplicably gone public and my risqué post wasn’t sent only to Close Friends as I thought and I’m getting in a right stew now and damn it, how do I unfriend that annoying guy who posts pictures of his gerbils 10 times a day? And where oh where did they put the Log out button?

By now, it’s late afternoon. Before I get down to my ‘real’ work I’ll just pop onto Authonomy and read a chapter of some novels I’ve watchlisted… While I’m at it, I realise I may as well check my messages, make sure my book hasn’t inexplicably plummeted out of the top 120, check the forums to see if anyone has landed a mega publishing deal…

Several hours later I’ve yet to start the day’s editing and writing, H is howling for a walk and Hungry Hubby is due home any minute…

Mindful of time’s ever-present constraints, I had a go at this week’s Authonomy blog writing exercise (

Theme: Time

Prompt picture:

Clock disintegating photo 2

Smashing Time

I was strolling along the beach early one morning, pondering the number of minutes left for the day’s tasks listed on my notepad:

cycle to doctor
collect prescription
queue in chemist
reply to emails
weed back garden
clean dog’s vomit stain from floor
edit latest chapter
write blog post
call the vet
shop for dinner…

When a giant clock emerged from the sea

and a staircase of sand formed at my feet

its pearly glow invited me to take a step

and then another towards that strange face

hanging there above the horizon

ticking ever louder as I climbed

closer and closer, as if I were pulled

by a force far stronger than myself

and then I had this crazy idea

that I could stop Time or maybe

send it backwards just a little

So I reached up and pressed on the minute hand as hard as I could. It juddered to a halt with a loud clank and the clock began to disintegrate, fragments of useless mechanism and endless captive minutes all soaring through the salty air and I knew then that my untweeted tweets and uncooked dinner and deskful of post-it notes didn’t matter, because I had

All the time in the world


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s