Friday, March 30, 2018

The most valuable thing

Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend. - Theophrastus

The other day, I was talking to some people at a craft fair when a pretty young woman heard one of the others mention that I am a writer. She waited till the conversation was over, till I'd been stung by a woman saying, "Oh, yes, I read those when I was about twelve," when I said I wrote for Harlequin. At least, I thought, she didn't ask when I was going to write a real book. Or where the restroom was. I suppose that would have come later.

But I regress. When the conversation ended, the young woman--her name is Whitney--introduced herself and asked about writing and we talked a little bit. She reads "everything," the best kind of reader there is. She was pretty, bright, and interesting. It was fun talking to her. She said someday she wanted to write a book. And someday, when she had time, she was just going to write.

Which led to me giving advice she didn't ask for. Not that I'm a stranger to doing that, but just this one time, I was right to do it.

"Whitney," I said, calling her by name beause I love her name, "don't wait until you have time."

And I know, really I do, that I'm not the first person who ever gave that advice, but it is undoubtedly the best advice I ever gave.

I went on to tell her that I'd written my first three books sitting on bleachers. That
was in truth an exaggeration, but I did do some writing there. And in the car while I waited on kids. And during my lunch hour. And in the early morning hours before work--I had to get up at 3:30 AM anyway, so we're talking really early--I wrote the first draft of One More Summer in 83 days and a lot of that writing was done between 3:00 and 3:30.

Just last week I waxed pompous to my friend Margie, telling her I didn't know how I'd managed writing books and working fulltime all at once. I still don't know, but I do know this. I never had time, so I guess I made time. Thank goodness for coil-bound notebooks and pens that write well.

So, to Whitney, and to any other young writers out there, that's my best piece of advice: make time. My second-best is, when you meet a veteran writer, walk right up and talk to her the way you did to me. It makes our day.

I’m ending this differently, because it’s three years since I wrote this, and it was for a writing blog. I don’t regret the advice—unlike some I’ve given; when will I learn to keep my mouth shut?—but it applies to much more than writing. It applies to travel and apologizing and playing a game of Farkle with someone (particularly seven-year-old grandchildren who stomp all over you.) To saying “you bet” when someone asks you to go somewhere even if your hair’s dirty, whether it’s to East End for dessert or Aroma for coffee or a trip to Walmart for toilet paper and laundry detergent.

Don’t have time? Sure you do. 

1 comment: