It’s the weekend and I was sitting in my conservatory this morning, waiting for the delivery of my morning paper to the letterbox and I started thinking about what a weekend means. Over the years it has meant many different things to me. When I was working on an intense project it could mean nothing at all, if I was lucky I got a Sunday afternoon off. Or if I was working shiftwork or for myself and writing it also meant nothing at all, rest on any day of the week and write when the urge hits you. When in the ‘going to work’ workforce it was sometimes a blessed relief twinkling like a star at the end of a black week, or sometimes a chance to recharge and get ready for another exciting week. All a matter of perspective, I guess.
My thought train led me to an even bigger question. Time. It seems today that our lives are ruled by time. But is it not an artificial constraint of our age? Life is divided into seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years in a way it never used to be. When you think of it, part of the change has to do with inventions. Electricity brought the daytime into the nighttime and so allowed people to be active longer.
There was a time when you got up when the sun came up and you stopped working when the sun went down and it was dark. If you worked the land your year was marked by seasons and the weather told you when you should do what the earth and crops and animals demanded.
Was it a more simple life? Was it ‘easier’? Was it healthier? I suspect the answers are yes, no and yes. Was time marked to the same extent before the invention of watches and clocks? They say time moves so much faster now. Wrong. We are so much faster, the way we live is so much faster, time moves at the same pace it has always moved. If you disagree with me take your watch off, sit down and stare at a patterned carpet for what you estimate is an hour. Ah, before I get any more philosophical…the paper is here.
#2 in the “Famous Writers Tips on Writing” series today comes courtesy of the fabulous P.D. James:
1. Increase your word power. Words are the raw material of our craft. The greater your vocabulary the more effective your writing. We who write in English are fortunate to have the richest and most versatile language in the world. Respect it.
2. Read widely and with discrimination. Bad writing is contagious.
3. Don’t just plan to write – write. It is only by writing, not dreaming about it, that we develop our own style.
4. Write what you need to write, not what is currently popular or what you think will sell.
5. Open your mind to new experiences, particularly to the study of other people. Nothing that happens to a writer – however happy, however tragic – is ever wasted.