Got a free minute?

Recently I found this tool that shows how much time you’ve wasted on Facebook. Did I log in and shake my head over the result? Not a chance. I took the-ignorance-is-bliss approach and gave it a wide berth. As I will do if any such tools pop up for other social media.

The test made me think of other activities that I don’t want a cumulative time record for:

  • looking for recycling symbols on packaging

  • waiting in voice queues to speak to the next available representative

  • learning the latest version of software just when I’ve nailed the old one

  • looking for things that aren’t where they should be

  • trying to make shoddy merchandise function so I won’t have to return it

  • returning shoddy merchandise to stores

  • searching for a sales assistant who knows less about a store’s products than I do

  • standing in a room, wondering what I came in for, and feeling convinced if I just stand there another minute, I will remember

  • going back to that room five minutes later because I finally remembered what I wanted

  • saving recipes that will never be made

Browsing websites is a better way to spend time than anything on that list. It connects me to the world and opens the portal to daydreaming. Neil Gaiman said, “As an author, I’ve never forgotten how to daydream.” I hope I don’t either. It’s an essential springboard to making stuff up.

Now the University of Pennsylvania recognizes that unfocused internet surfing may be productive time. “'[…] distraction, multi-tasking, and aimless drifting' might prove as creatively fertile as automatic writing was for the Surrealist writers,” according to Professor (and MoMA Poet Laureate) Kenneth Goldsmith.

Are you going to click on the link above and see how much time you’ve wasted on Facebook? Or do you realize that actually it’s time invested, not squandered? How many opportunities would you have missed if you hadn’t taken time to be part of the worldwide web and all it has to offer?


Photo from Wikimedia Commons: Salvador Dali, Profile of Time in Arkady Wroclawskie Shopping Centre by Julio.

Terrible Titles Blog Hop

The incomparable Alyssa Brugman has tagged me in this blog hop.

The job is to find “eight terrible titles” from my work in progress by scrolling randomly through my manuscript and letting my cursor stop where it will.”

So, from my novel about three teenagers hiking on Mt. Rainier, here are eight random lines:

  1. Got my Nudies.

  2. I’d rather try to get honey away from a bear.

  3. A slightly singed squirrel lies on the ground below it.

  4. Conversation is harder to find than the mythical emeralds.

  5. I shake my head to get rid of the zombie-freeze that has sucked out my free will.

  6. Maybe super heroes or D1 Drifters?

  7. Her skin feels reptilian, leathery and smooth.

  8. I fling my arms around in wild windmills


Photo by: Alan Bolitho

Are You Resolved?

How many things did I plan to do and not get done in 2014? Lots. But I’m not going to dignify those missed targets by listing them here. Okay, I’ll admit to having let my blog slip into erratic intervals. Maybe I didn’t advance my work-in-progress novels as much as I would have liked. It’s also possible I spent far too much time on the internet.

Word count: 451                                                                                      Reading time: 1-2 minutes

A person can feel quite defeated by only looking at what didn’t happen, so I decided to concentrate on the things I did do:

  • Packed up part of our North Vancouver house to make it pretty for selling.

  • Completed the purchase of our Victoria home.

  • Sold the North Vancouver place.

  • Shipped most our possessions into storage and found temporary accommodation for the five months of renovations.

  • Led the Young Writers’ Club of North Vancouver until March, when I handed it over to the talented Lisa Voisin.

  • Launched my debut novel Lockdown.

  • Worked with builders and tradespeople through the demolition and renovation. Every day at the job site I sat at a folding table in the middle of the dust, noise, and disruptions, and wrote something.  

  • Travelled back to the mainland to read with the gracious Steven Galloway at the North Vancouver City Library.

  • Participated regularly (mostly by phone) with my critique group in North Vancouver.

  • Moved into the new home and settled in (this seemed to take forever).

  • Took a YA writing course at UVic, taught by the fabulous Robin Stevenson.

  • Attended meetings and seminars hosted by mystery writers, romance writers, and all-purpose writers.

  • Promoted my book through social media and local contacts.

  • Assumed the position of Treasurer of the Lynn Valley Literary Society.

  • Went to the Victoria Writers’ Festival.

  • Wrote twenty-eight flash fiction stories.

  • Read over fifty books and dozens of short stories.

Looking at things that way, maybe keeping a regular blog wasn’t such a priority after all. As Steve Jobs said, “Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do.” If I’d tethered myself to regular blogs, maybe other important things would have gone.

So now I’m going to take my cue from the Roman god Janus, whose two faces look to the past and to the future at the same time. Much more might have been accomplished in 2014 but I laid the groundwork for 2015’s goals. I won’t shoot for too many though. Too strict an agenda can exclude the joy of serendipity and new paths that open before us.

As the year draws to a close, have you taken time to reflect with satisfaction on the things you did? What do you plan to accomplish in 2015, in writing and the rest of your life?

Photos from Wikimedia Commons: Red colour flowing into the waters of Sydney by Rajwinder Singh and Bust of god Janus, Vatican Museum by Fubar Obfusco