Time to create

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“The worst of it is the certainty that I will die, not someday or sometime in the future, but today.  This is the day of my death.”

Reckoning – Andrea Stephenson

 

When I was young, I had time to write, time to draw, time to create.  The hours passed slowly, bending to fit the things I wanted to do.  There was no urgency or purpose – no deadlines, no pursuit of success.  Creativity was a pastime, not a goal.

Now, time is precious and passes quickly.  There is less of it in my day, my week, my year.  Now, uninterrupted time makes me procrastinate.  There are so many things I could do with a day that I often fritter it away, undecided.

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We all know that our time is limited, but it’s a concept that is difficult to grasp until it runs out.  I recently realised that the years I have left may now be fewer than those I’ve already lived.  I’m often surprised that ‘twenty years ago’ doesn’t refer to the seventies, but to the nineties.  People I think of as contemporaries are actually a couple of decades younger than I am.  We try to control time with bucket lists and life plans.  But time is nobody’s servant.  It follows its own sweet path and we can stumble off it without warning.

Sometimes, I worry that there won’t be enough time to fulfil the creative dreams I have for myself.  And yet, time isn’t always a barrier to success.  You can write a story in a day, a novel in a month and publish a piece of writing in seconds.  Creativity isn’t dependent on youth.  The passing of time only enhances the depth and breadth of creative work and writing is not a profession you have to retire from.

And ultimately, how much time is enough?  If you knew exactly when you would die, would this make a difference to the way you lived your life?  That was the question I asked myself when I wrote my short story Reckoning.  You can find out what conclusion I came to because it’s just been published in the latest issue of Popshot, a literary magazine distributed to 18 countries.  I’m thrilled that my story was chosen for the ‘time’ issue and has its own dedicated illustration.  You can buy the magazine by clicking on the cover above.

 

86 thoughts on “Time to create

  1. I love that quote from your your story. Congrats on the publication! That’s wonderful.

    Yes, it’s a sobering thought when we realize we’ve lived more years than we likely have left. I think that’s why the older we get, the easier it is to let go of who we think we should be and instead focus on being who we really are.

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  2. Bravo for the publication of your story, Andrea. This is terrific and encouraging news. Then I love what you say about the passing of time and age. Like you, I fear to leave this earth before having realized some of my dreams. But your following sentences echo my thoughts too:
    “Creativity isn’t dependent on youth. The passing of time only enhances the depth and breadth of creative work and writing is not a profession you have to retire from.”
    Another good post about creativity, Andrea. But the best is your success story with the publication of Reckoning.

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  3. I console myself with the thought that getting older is a lot better than the alternative of dying young. Congratulations on Reckoning! Popshots looks absolutely beautiful, the perfect home for your story.

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  4. So happy for you Andrea, many, many congratulations! I was excited to hear news of your upcoming short story publication and am thrilled for you. Your story sounds intriguing, I can’t wait to read it and find out your conclusion! As for time, so interesting to read your thoughts here as lately I’ve been thinking along the same lines, as in, ‘if only I’d started writing seriously 20 years ago’. I have this sense of urgency to get my book written and all the other projects I have in mind but I don’t want to panic and rush. Time is indeed a precious commodity but as you so wisely say, when we really put our minds to it so much can be accomplished in the time we are allowed. I shall remember that 🙂

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  5. This is marvellous news, Andrea – and very well deserved. I’ve spent rather too long this morning browsing the link and will definitely buy a copy. I’ll be on the south bank next week and I see that Foyles SB sell it there so I’ll try then. If not, I’ll get one in the post. How exciting!

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  6. Andrea, you and I must be going through, floating along, incredibly similar “streams”…(somehow “stream” feels right). Immediately i clicked with the clock imagery — could practically feel it ticking. Then i saw that everything you had to say echoed how i’ve felt all year and longer.

    More importantly — Congratulations on the publication of your story!!!!!! Yay! I’m so excited for you. 😀 Picking up that magazine for the first time had to feel wonderful. Huge hugs!

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    • Thanks Teagan, yes, I didn’t want to share it until I’d seen it and it was definitely there 🙂 And I get your sense of urgency for wanting to move on to a new location and a new start, I hope it happens for you soon.

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  7. First, you made me quite thoughtful at 6 this morning as I read your post, nodding my head in agreement. I could write paragraphs in response (I promise, I won’t!); instead, I’m sipping my tea ruminating on your right-on comments. I’m ‘working on’ spending more time creating/writing and less time on the treadmill, and it’s not an easy feat.
    Congrats on the publishing of your story in Popshot Magazine. I look forward to reading it.

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    • Thank you! I had lots of thoughts floating around about ‘time’ and could have written a much longer post – I had to weed some of those thoughts out – also it could have been a little depressing! I still don’t feel as though I have the balance quite right, but I do feel I’ve started to get there in these last few years, so I’m hoping I’ll have many more creative years to come.

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  8. Andrea, this is so exciting! I’m so happy for you. Your blog was so calming and soothing, I didn’t expect the great news down further as I read. How wonderful.

    I do have to point out something. One paragraph you wrote here just jumped out at me as if you had climbed into my brain and spoke aloud what you discovered there.
    “I recently realised that the years I have left may now be fewer than those I’ve already lived. I’m often surprised that ‘twenty years ago’ doesn’t refer to the seventies, but to the nineties. People I think of as contemporaries are actually a couple of decades younger than I am.”

    Congratulations on your publication.

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  9. Oh, I so hear you on the frittering away of time. Now that I’ve reach the, ahem, ripe age of 50 I KNOW I am more than half-way there… Yet I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up! I am STILL in the trying things out stage. Seriously? How can that be?

    I am beyond ecstatic for you! Writing is something I’ve always thought of doing yet never really tried. Then I started my blog to see if I had anything of interest to say (and would people actually want to read what I wrote). More and more I am considering “trying it for real” and you have inspired me to do so! Can’t wait to read your story!

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  10. Congratulations Andrea! I just ordered the Time issue and am looking forward to reading your story 🙂 wow! what an awesome question ‘If you knew exactly when you would die, would this make a difference to the way you lived your life?’. I will be pondering on that one especially since my dilemma is how to carve time out of my insane work week schedule for my short stories. Thanks for the inspiration 🙂

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  11. Looking forward to reading your story! This observation particularly caught my eye: “The passing of time only enhances the depth and breadth of creative work…” At 42, I definitely feel that my writing voice is stronger than it was in my 20s, maybe because with age has come some wisdom about the fact that writing takes *work* (and of course there are the years of actual life experience, which seemed so irrelevant when I was an adolescent iconoclast…) I like to remind myself that Dostoyevsky was in his 50s when he began to write his masterpieces; of course I have to be careful not to turn that into an excuse to procrastinate for another decade!

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    • I don’t think I could have written anything with the same depth in my 20s – what I might have thought was deep then has since been seasoned by experience. I’m 43 now and the first time I won a prize in a writing competition was when I was 41 – and you’re right, it wasn’t just that my experience made me a better writer, it was because I started to be serious and ‘work’ at it.

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  12. Andrea an interesting post, I worry I will never have enough time to do all my dreams justice. So I plod along hoping I will be gifted this time. I had this conversation with my daughter the other day. She said knowing when you were going to die would be horrible because you would fret all the time and never really get anything done. Wise words from an eleven year old. This week I am going to try and spend more time on the things I love. But as usual I have a busy week with kids, artwork and family visits. I wish we could stretch time to do the extra magic stuff of our dreams. Kath.

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  13. Congratulations, Andrea, on your published article! Wow! You’re so talented. 🙂

    For me, I know time is slipping away and we can’t do anything about changing that except for living in the moment and appreciating now on this Earth. I think that’s when we feel most fulfilled. There will always be things to do and places to go. That will never change. It’s the extent of how we are being when we do and where we go that truly matters. I’m still working on it.

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      • Same here, Andrea, in learning to follow. I can truly identify with what you say in the simple things that matter. It sure rings to be true for me in my life these days the same as for you. I don’t know — maybe, it takes this long when the world slows down for us to realize it. 🙂

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  14. I’m a big fan of good titles, Andrea, and “Reckoning” is an excellent title.
    Congratulations on the success of this story. I appreciate your insights that the stories of your 20s wouldn’t have had the same depth…that experience makes us better writers.

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  15. Being the same age as you, I can so identify with what you’re saying about time. I get really frustrated with myself (most days) as I fight the urge to fritter my time away, quite often due to not having the amount of energy I’d like and partly because one side of me is saying I’ll never get where I want with my writing before I pass on. Silly me. But there it is. I think when I get into avoidance mode it’s ultimately related to fear of rejection and failure.
    I’m off to check Popshot magazine now, and be inspired by your success!

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    • Yes, when I remember that this is what I love doing and forget about what I want to achieve, that’s when I’m most productive. I’m sure I’ll be devastated if I don’t get a novel published, but I’ll still have spent hours doing what I love and having the opportunity to share it with people.

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      • I’m going to have a go self-publishing one of my earlier novels as an experiment. Better than it languishing in a drawer. As for my latest novel, I’ll persevere with literary agents, but if it reaches 20 rejections, I’ll have to think again, but I’m a long way off that yet and, so far, haven’t been rejected on my writing but on it not fitting into a clearly defined market.
        I’m sure your novel will go far, if your piece of flash fiction is anything to go on. At least these days, us writers do have an alternative route to traditional publishing and it is becoming increasingly respectable.

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      • We do have some choices now Sarah. I wrote a horror novel when I was younger but decided not to pursue horror – I love reading it but don’t think it’s really my thing in terms of writing, but I have had a few moments when I’ve considered self-publishing it so that it wasn’t wasted! I’ll keep my fingers crossed for your submissions and hope that you get the agent that’s just right for you.

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  16. Excellent Andrea, that looks like a worthwhile publication to be a part of. Part of me agrees that we improve with experience, the other part sees that writers generally are too aged a group. I like to see fresh young voices challenging some sacred cows, questioning accepted practices, forging their writing careers at a younger age, albeit with a few mistakes and misjudgements along the way.

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    • Thanks Roy, I’ve been really impressed by the magazine so I’m happy to be in it! It’s true there are wonderful young writers as well as old – I’m sometimes amazed by the confidence of some young people – I certainly didn’t have their confidence at that age.

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  17. Congrats! That’s awesome. A very cool story concept and title. 🙂 I often feel like I live life with too much concern about time. I lost a dear friend in college and so I’ve always felt like my time was limited. That the end could come at any point. And I wanted the time I lived to matter. What mattered has changed over the years but I do devote myself to it. 🙂

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  18. Congratulations on having your story published, Andrea. The business of doing the most with my time baffles me more and more. I wonder do I waste time if I spend extra time in my gardens or is that time well spent because I’m doing something I love. Am I wasting time if I simply sit and watch Tom sleep when he’s relaxed and doesn’t seem to be in pain or is that time I should be up and about accomplishing something such as placing dirty dishes in the dishwasher. I try not to argue with myself about these things to often because then, I really do waste the time I have remaining on earth.

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    • Thanks Sheri. When I was reading your comment, I was thinking ‘no, no, no’ – you shouldn’t ever feel that those moments are wasted or that you should be accomplishing something. Enjoy those small, beautiful moments – when the time comes, you won’t remember the dirty dishes, you’ll remember watching Tom sleep and spending time in the garden 🙂

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  19. Yay, honey!!! Congrats on your publication. Well deserved, you brilliant thing!

    It’s so crazy for me to read your post this morning as I was stressing about time last night as I lay in bed. Now I’m in my early 30’s, which I know isn’t over the hill, but I’m also not a pup. There is much I want to create and so little time to do it. But, you know what? It’s a good problem to have. I think we’re seizing life the way we’re meant to and to stop and think about that, that we are living life to the fullest, is really quite awesome.

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    • Thanks Britt 🙂 That’s true, if we didn’t have any dreams we wouldn’t worry about the lack of time, it’s good to have so many dreams you can’t fit them all in – as usual you’ve come up with a very positive way of looking at it.

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  20. Congratulations Andrea! I’m so very happy for you and I look forward to reading your story. I love your intro. Time management has always been a big struggle for me and I feel that the more I fret about it the less I get things done. Usually by that time I realize it’s time for a PP ; pause and prioritize and I do so with a cup of tea 😉 taking it one step at a time. Yes, I think we all ponder about that question of what to do with the time left..my God, I realize all too often my life will be way too short, but ultimately ‘losing time’ with doing the things you love to do is never wasted.

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    • Thanks Karin 🙂 It’s funny, sometimes I have a full day and think that I shouldn’t write, because if I do, the day will pass too quickly – but that’s because I love doing it, so I shouldn’t be worrying about it!

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  21. Congratulations on the published story, Andrea! I sneaked a peek at the journal’s website and read the introduction to the works therein. An excellent book that really complements these different ideas is Einstein’s Dreams, by Alan Lightman. It’s very short, only about 25,000 words, but the “dreams” about different concepts of time are really interesting and also a comment on human behavior.

    I hope we’ll see many more stories of yours coming our way!

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  22. Congratulations – I’m so happy for you!! Like so many of us, I struggle to balance my creative desires and my “everything else” (job, family, etc.) but really they are intertwined most of the time and I find that when I schedule my time (like recreation period when I was a child, like art class! then it works well for me).

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    • Thanks Letizia! As much as I might complain about having to work instead of having all my time to create, I suspect that it does feed my creativity and it’d be interesting to see the impact if I didn’t have to do that – though I’d be happy to try it 🙂

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  23. Congratulations Andrea! I can completely connect to your concern about fleeting time. I often wish I had begun to write when I was younger, but then I realize that it’s the age and experience that gives me a voice. For all things there is a season.

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  24. Pingback: The girl I was | Harvesting Hecate

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