What would happen if time was metricated?

Metricated Time

This is a question I have often wondered about. Mainly because I never seem to have enough of it – especially to write. I was thinking about the issue of time scarcity following a brief conversation I had with the award winning author, Michael Robotham. I went to hear him speak recently at a local library and at the conclusion I asked him how I could get my next book published. He said that you just have to keep writing as the more I wrote the better I would become. I bought a copy of his latest book, “Close your Eyes”, and he was kind enough to sign it with the following inscription:

“Keep finding time to write.”

And here in lies the problem – I never seem to have enough time. My day, like most people, falls into three parts:

  • 8-10 hours for work, followed by
  • 8 hours to sleep (I need my beauty sleep), which leaves me with….
  • 8 hours to do whatever else I want/need to do.

So here’s my theory – if time was metricated we would have more of it. Problem solved!

Just think about it. If there were 100 seconds per minute and 100 minutes per hour and 20 hours per day we would have an extra 5.6 metricated hours per day. Imagine! All that extra time to do all those things we never get done.

It also occurred to me that the concept of time and how it is measured is one of the few things that all of mankind has agreed upon. As a species we have multiple languages, different currencies, calendars and measurement systems for weights and measures, even different calendars, cultures and traditions. But how we measure time is uniform across all countries and people. If only we humans could all agree on a few more things that affect us all.

There are no substitutes for time. Once the day is over, we will never get it back and we can never go back. Time is irreversible and irreplaceable.

Of course, metricating time is whimsical thinking. The real problem is not about how much time I have, it’s how I use it. I bought a book in 1993 called ‘Yes You Can’ by Jack Collis (it’s just been reprinted). As you would expect from the title, it’s a motivational book and I still have it today. There’s a chapter in there titled ‘Time is Life’ which I re-read recently and a salutary section stood out for me.

“Time is inelastic. You can’t stretch it (so there goes my theory on metricating time!). You can’t gain time. The only choice we have with time is how to use the time we have. It’s a sobering thought to consider that in any twenty-four hours, geniuses get the same time as mental incompetents, millionaires the same as paupers. The difference doesn’t lie in the time itself, the difference lies in the activities we undertake and the quality of life that those activities produce.”

Obviously, time is not my problem (or lack of it) – it’s how I use the time and prioritising those things that really matter to me – like finding time to write everyday.

 “This time, like all times, is a very good one if we but know what to do with it.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Human Brain – instructions not included

The Human Brain

The human brain is a truly wonderful thing. The most sophisticated computer every devised.

There’s only one thing wrong with it.

It doesn’t come with a set of instructions.

There’s no ‘how to’ or reference guide, quick tips or shortcuts. No undo, delete or escape buttons. No handy little question mark to click, help desk or IT geeky guy to call when you have a problem. No cute plug-ins or apps to cut through the crap. No defragg software and no temporary memory that can be erased just by closing the lid.

Why? Because the mind is so incredibly complex no-one really knows how it works.

This realisation came to me recently when I was describing the reaction of a character in my next book and how she was so overwhelmed by emotion at the disappearance of her daughter. If only she could hit the off button. To power down her mind, to turn off the debilitating thoughts about where her daughter might be and stop imagining what might be happening to her.

And, whilst all humans come equipped with a brain that, to all intents and purposes, is identical in composition, shape and construct, every person acts and behaves differently.

How people react to different situations is what makes us all unique. There is no one accepted/standard way to deal with pain or loss or happiness. We have to work it out for ourselves.

Because of these differences (not to mention the physical differences between us) and the lack of any instructions on how we should behave, think and act, each person’s journey through life is unique.

From a writer’s perspective, understanding these differences is how we create great characters.  Is it easy? No – certainly not for me. But it’s part of my journey to discover how to be a better writer.

Image courtesy of vectorolie at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Debits and Credits and the Great Ledger of Life

The Great Ledger of Life (2) (2)

We all know that life doesn’t always go according to plan. In spite of how hard we try and how much we plan we mere humans don’t have total control over our own destiny. Sometimes things go horribly wrong and it seems that nothing will ever be right again and you’re left with a feeling of deep despair. At other times things work out and you feel a fabulous sense of joy and happiness and all is right with the world.

They say that humans can experience over one hundred and thirty different emotions. These can be classified into six basic emotions – happiness, anger, fear, sadness, disgust, and surprise. Sometimes I feel like I’ve experienced all of them in one day. Life can often be like that.

Emotions help us deal with what life throws at us and is one of the things that sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom.  Just as importantly, each emotion comes with a set of physical characteristics – we scowl and shout when we’re angry, smile when we’re happy.

Being able to capture the emotion of a character, what they are experiencing and how they react, so that the reader feels their hurt or pain or happiness is, to me, the hallmark of a great writer. Something I aspire to but struggle with all the time. Being able to draw on my own experience helps make it real but I have so much to learn about how to write convincingly. Feeling depressed and despair are just two of the emotions I feel when I read my own work, interspersed with the occasional sense of elation and pride when I think I’ve got it right.

Which brings me back to the great ledger of life.

Dealing with the highs and lows is something we all have to learn to do in life. And the older I get the more I think about the cycle of life. I think about it in terms of debits and credits. So long as there are more credits in the ledger: happy times, success, achievements, and less debits: disasters, problems, issues, then I think I’m doing OK.

It takes a lot of work to make sure that, over time and on balance, life is more in credit than debit. It’s not always easy and especially at those times when all seems lost.

But remember we only get one shot a life  –  so smile and never, ever give up!