I read an article today that suggested ‘the best way to get more done may be to spend more time doing less’. A provocative hook but the article’s message was simple: take a break. The writer advocates, among other things, working in 90-minutes intervals, giving yourself breaks for renewal of energy in between:
Human beings aren’t designed to expend energy continuously. Rather, we’re meant to pulse between spending and recovering energy.
Well, yes. I know that. We all know that. But in practice? Perhaps I’ll give the 90-minute work bursts idea a try, with a leisurely pot of Earl Grey and an imaginary walk in between. Why imaginary? Read on …
In my first blog post I wrote the following, an observation by a character-in-progress from a novella-in-progress:
When you reach an age—you’ll know it when it comes—looking forward won’t do. Looking back, if you let it, can consume every breath you take. But looking up, looking down … it’s here, in these oblique moments, that we truly live, where it’s possible to find joy.
Sitting here in Perth on a scorching February day—34 degrees before 9am—I have to confess that if I was to take my own advice literally, I’d be seeing not much more than the jarrah ceiling beams of my studio and the worn rug on the floor. But I can take the reminder as it was intended—beyond the literal—as 2013 cranks up its pace a few notches. Pause. Feel. Listen. See.
For now, here are a couple of Paris Blues, looking up/looking down images of the literal kind. Stay cool (or warm if you’re in the northern hemisphere)!
Last December fragment, last daily post (back to occasional now), last day of the year—conventionally, a time for resolutions. I’m still working on mine, but I’m going to avoid the impossible ones this year. The painful ones. The ones involving denial and doom. You know, things like giving up chocolate. Taking more time for watching the world, for looking up, looking down—maybe I can manage that. I hope yours, whatever they may be, will bring you as much pleasure.
Have a happy, transcendent New Year. See you in 2013!
There are many ways to be free. One of them is to transcend reality by imagination…
Fair price? (I don’t this is the sole province of writers. I have artist friends who would agree.)
Before I entered publishing, I believed, like most people, that the life of a writer was to be envied. As one of my heroes, Truman Capote, wrote, ‘When God hands you a gift, he also hands you a whip.’ Now I understand that writers are a breed apart, their gifts and their whips inextricably linked.
—Betsy Lerner, The Forest for the Trees: an editor’s advice to writers
That most complex of things—us. (And then you look at a spider web…)
Humans are not empty organisms, free spirits constrained only by the limits of our imaginations or, more prosaically, by the social and economic determinants within which we live, think and act. Nor are we reducible to ‘nothing but’ machines for the replication of our DNA. We are, rather, the products of the constant dialectic between ‘the biological’ and ‘the social’ through which humans have evolved, history has been made and we as individuals have developed.
—Steven Rose, Lifelines: Life Beyond the Gene
The sense of an ending can also be a beginning…
… it takes only the smallest pleasure or pain to teach us time’s malleability. Some emotions speed it up, others slow it down; occasionally, it seems to go missing—until the eventual point when it really does go missing, never to return.
—Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending
Wishing you love and light, and a beautiful day… and snow (well, in my dreams, at least :-))…
Love came down at Christmas;
Love all lovely, love divine;
Love was born at Christmas,
Stars and angels gave the sign.
Storytelling—a basic human need…
Everybody’s life is full of stories. Your life is full of stories; my life is full of stories. They are very occupying, but they are not really interesting. What is interesting is the way everyone tells their stories.
the piano announces itself
against clouding and unclouding skies
rain darkens it sun bleaches it
wind ploughs the lupins the piano sways
eases its joints—moans settles its pedals deeper
under grass and earth …
—Ross Bolleter, ‘On Piano Hill’, Piano Hill
Proof, evidence, witness…
Why is it we want so badly to memorialize ourselves? Even while we’re still alive. We wish to assert our existence, like dogs peeing on fire hydrants. We put on display our framed photographs, our parchment diplomas, our silver-plated cups; we monogram our linen, we carve our names on trees, we scrawl them on washroom walls. It’s all the same impulse. What do we hope from it? Applause, envy, respect? Or simply attention, of any kind we can get?
At the very least we want a witness. We can’t stand the idea of our own voices falling silent finally, like a radio running down.
—Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin
Margaret Atwood will be a guest of the 2013 Perth Writers Festival in February.