Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Time, Fate and Choices

by Janis Patterson

How did it get to be the end of February already? 2024 is almost 1/6th over, and I haven’t even started some of the things I hoped to have finished already. The Husband says I set my goals to high, that I believe I can accomplish much more than I reasonably can. He’s probably a little bit right. I’m getting older, and though I am not a morbid person it’s quite obvious that there is less time in front of me than behind. Sigh. 

So I am determined to make that time count. The problem is, if I lived another fifty years and never had a single idea from this very minute, I would not be able to write all the books that are currently living in my brain.

But with such a short (relatively - I’m not THAT old yet!) time left, how do I decide which project deserves my attention? There are 2-3 books lined up about my rich older lady sleuth Flora Melkiot, who would doubtless harm me if I called her elderly. There are another 2-3 books already pretty much plotted (as much as I ever plot) about Contract Archaeologist Rachel Petrie. Lurking deep in the shadows is a tentative idea for another story about researcher Mindy McMann. And those are just ideas about my various (some of them embryonic) series. There is the epic family saga loosely based on my own family which has teased me for years, beginning with my great-grandmother who came from Scotland back in the 1850s. There is a decidedly controversial alternative-history murder mystery. There is a non-fiction history I am burning to write. And there are more, many more...

The d*mnable thing is that they are all important! At least, important to me.

There are other things, too. Time with my husband, doing whatever appeals to us at the moment. There are trips we want to take, long, leisurely trips that we have dreamed of for years. Time with extended family, some of whom are older than we and the time we have with them is to be cherished. Obligations to beloved organizations. My political activism. Time to spend with friends. New adventures, too, some we probably haven’t even thought of yet.

My father was a consummate wordsmith who played with the classic Latin phrase “Tempus Fugit” (Time Passes), making it into “Tempus is a fugitin’” Well, tempus is indeed a fugitin’ and I’m not sure I like it.

When I was a child I couldn’t wait to grow up - childhood was so stultifying! The years seemed to drag as slowly as an arthritic snail until the time I could be regarded as a human being with wants and desires and opinions instead of as a mere child to be directed and taught and kept from participating because I was young. The only good thing was that the future, shining and endless, stretched before me in a tantalizing road. 

Now, though, time is on fast-forward, speeding past at a rate that seems to surpass the speed of light. That is not heartening.

I have read of several authors who are officially retiring, a choice I really cannot understand. The thought of a life without writing is beyond my comprehension. I must admit I would like a respite from a continuing onslaught of deadlines, and a softer schedule, but to retire? To quit writing completely? That would be like cutting off a piece of myself. Writing has been a part of my life for an astonishing number of years. I wrote my first ‘novel’ at four; the complete total now hangs somewhere in the region of a hundred. In the intervening years I have written films, advertising, articles, edited a couple of multi-magazine publishing groups... just about anything that uses words. I cannot picture a life without words any more than I can picture a life without breathing.

So why am I sitting here musing instead of creating? Dunno. Guess I gotta get busy. I have a deadline.