On writing, in slivers of time

At different times, life takes on a different character. New pursuits become meaningful, new cares get in the way, one’s time is spent in different ways.

In January this year, I started working full time, and the character of my life from week to week changed dramatically. I have written very little since then outside of work – very few posts for my blog, and very little of my own writing in general. The exception is the six days I spent at sea in late June – then, I wrote every day, mostly during night watch when the others were asleep.

This full-time work life means that nearly everything that’s not official paid work must fit into four types of time.

One is the slim sliver of space that exists between waking and running for the bus in the morning; time that is barely there unless I get up especially early, but on most days is enough for the easy camaraderie of breakfast and, when the days are long enough, for a walk with the dog.

There are the evening hours when, ten hours later, I return from work, tired and usually feeling a little absent; in mid-winter, there is only darkness.

Then there are the two or three hours that comprise public transport to and from work and lunch breaks; again, slim slivers where my mind has no time to shift gears.

And finally there is the rushing, yawning, waking, lazing, busy weekend that sometimes seems to be just a bookend either side of a long week.

This organisation of time into blocks that are largely inflexible is not unusual; it’s reality for nearly everyone in full time work, and I’m lucky because I rarely have to work beyond my 8 hour day. But nonetheless it has been a change – a big change from last year, when I worked mostly from home, had to ‘be somewhere’ two or three days a week, and had the freedom (and pressure) of organising my own time for study. It’s also a big change from years past when I worked on ships – at sea, time is even more regimented but I lived and breathed my job in a completely different way.

I always think about writing, of course, but I often manage not to do it. It’s easier to walk the dog, or clean the house. Most writers seem to face this; the topic of writers procrastinating has been done to death.

But now it is August, and the year is nearly two thirds over. If I cannot write this year, then who is to say I ever will?

And so I must. Minimum one blog post per week? Two? Or a paragraph a day? A page? A few lines? Something published by Christmas?

Maybe these words won’t be about ships and the sea, although there is so much left to write. Maybe they won’t even be about Ensay, yet. These things take a while to write into, and I’m out of practice – so perhaps it’s best to start with the here and now: the character of an office job, and of the other life squeezed in around it.

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