Thursday, May 21, 2020

The Times of Our Lives

With shelter-in-place orders in effect, many of us have more time than usual on our hands. This is yet another example of the way time rules our lives from the moment of birth until we draw our last breath. Each day, it dictates the frame in which we must work or play or laugh or cry or engage in any activity to get the most (or the least) from that fixed period. Some might say time imprisons us. Others may argue it sets us free. We all have perceptions of time based on our needs, our experiences, our views of life.

My view of time has changed dramatically over the  years. For example, it now differs significantly from when I was six months old. At that age, clocks and days meant nothing. I could express my hunger or frustration or discomfort equally well at 2 a.m. or 2 p.m., or any time in between. It was simply time to eat, time for a diaper change, time for comfort, time for relief from my bellyache, and so on.

At age six years, I entered the time zone. School started and ended at certain times. Recesses and lunch periods arrived at the same time each day. Summer vacations and the first day of school occurred at specified times. Family vacations came at the same time each year. Class assignments had to be completed and turned in by a certain time.

Then came a job and an introduction to a time clock. Commute times entered the picture. And so it went.

What do we really know about time?
Time flies.
Time waits for no one.
A time to laugh and a time to cry.
A time to love.
"Time to say goodbye". (Thank you, Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman)
The list could go on almost ad infinitum.

When I was 14, I couldn't wait until I was 18. When I was pregnant, I couldn't wait for the baby to be born. When the terrible twos hit, I couldn't wait for the teenage years. (Little did I know!)  The decades passed. Now, I want time to slow down because I'm running out of it. So many things yet to do; so little time to do them.

What does this have to do with writing? Nothing…or maybe everything. If our lives have demanded our attention in other areas, perhaps we've postponed our time to write until our senior years. After all, we can write after we retire because our schedules will be less hectic. Seriously? We may not have to punch a time clock anymore, but we still may struggle to find the time (and energy) to punch the keys on the laptop. Stories that have long waited to be told may still be languishing backstage, listening intently for their cue to come front and center.

Passing years increase the urgency to tell those waiting stories. Unfortunately, the energy and emotion required to make that happen could be waning. Again, time takes on a new meaning. If used wisely and without undue pressure to get something done quickly, it may still serve us. It also offers incentives and perspectives not available to us in our younger years.

Each season, each time brings both blessings and maledictions. There used to be a TV game show called Beat the Clock. As we grow older, we realize we can't beat it because it marches relentlessly forward,—something we can no longer do. However, we can join forces with it.

While we may not be able to spend long hours working on a story, we may be able to incorporate several shorter periods of writing time into the day. All our lives, we've made adjustments to fit the necessary things into each 24-hour period. This is just one more adjustment, one that may allow us to complete our stories still begging to be told.

Do you have stories waiting?

Editor Linda Lane has returned to her first love—writing—while maintaining her editing work. Her novels fall into the literary category because they are character driven rather than plot driven, but their quick pace reminds the reader of genre fiction. They also contain elements of romance, mystery, and thrillers. You can contact her through her websites: and


  1. So many stories waiting, indeed. I've had to take on assisting my children with their education at home at this time, so it has been a mad scramble for me over the past few months.

    I remember when I was a child feeling that time absolutely dragged. Years felt very long. Then time began to speed up once I left school, increasing its pace each year. But when I mention time going quickly and ask my children about their impressions, they tell me that they feel the same way as I do - that time is flying. So sometimes I wonder if our whole universe has been sped up!

    1. Interesting that your children are also feeling that time is speeding up, Elle. Seconds, minutes, hours, etc. are specific measurements, so can their speed literally increase? It's sad to think that our youngsters are being robbed of the precious joys of playing, learning, exploring, and many others that should accompany childhood——that time before the responsibilities of becoming an adult forever change their lives.

  2. Terrific post Linda. I especially liked, "After all, we can write after we retire because our schedules will be less hectic. Seriously? We may not have to punch a time clock anymore, but we still may struggle to find the time (and energy) to punch the keys on the laptop."

    I'm glad that I learned a long time ago not to wait to write. You aren't promised tomorrow. There's only today. Don't waste it.

    1. Well said, Maryann. Absolutely don't waste it, and don't put it at the bottom of the to-do list. Writing, like painting and composing, is an art, a gift to share with others. To ignore or hide or put it off would be like placing a lit candle under an upside down clay pot. Let the light of your talent shine for others to see and/or hear. You never know whose heart you might touch.

  3. I love this post. I was never one who couldn't wait to marry and have kids. I did it late and it was best for me. I never felt I missed out on anything. I wasn't a mother who cried when the empty nest time came. I loved that my sons were out and on their own and experiencing life. I had worked constantly while they were growing up, and I just kept working. I do notice time is speeding up. Is it my imagination? I write less now, have two stories in the works and a couple I never finished, I have no idea where I waste my time, and I don't care.

    1. When we do what feels right for us, it is sufficient and will not likely cause us any regret. When we lie awake at night and contemplate our unfinished projects, we might want to revisit them. A final thought: time spent away from any projects may not be wasted at all. Are we enjoying grandkids? volunteering? helping neighbors? reading? spending valuable hours with a spouse, other family members, or dear friends? Or are we doing something else that brings us joy and peace of mind? This is the time of life when we often have fewer obligations and, hopefully, the time and the health to relish our years as "seasoned citizens".

  4. Yes, way too many stories waiting while I participate in another webinar or Zoom meeting...or just pull weeds and make banana bread. I like to say I'm writing in my head, but it's like you said. It's all about time and how we use it and what we wish for and what we wish we had done instead of what we actually did. Sigh.

    1. One of the things I've finally learned is not to kick myself too hard in the backside. I did that for many years, so it's time to accept who I am at this point in my life and what I want to do. When I really want to write, it comes so much easier that when I force myself to do it.

  5. Time was definitely my incentive to finish my series. It just disappears if we let it.

  6. It feels like time has stalled. The days and hours run into each other. I no longer have the usual outings and commitments. Even the charity I make blankets for is on pause. I am a hermit by nature but even I am starting to feel claustrophobic.


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice.