Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Clock watching for Lent

The churches I attend (I'm currently visiting around) don't, in general, observe Lent. But I do. One thing I cut out for the season is computer games. It was time to admit that once I got going on spider solitaire I was apt to not surface for a while. There are better uses for my time, and if I'm going to damage my wrist, it ought to be while helping keep a roof over our heads or food on the table, or otherwise accomplishing something.

One of the other things I did was to decide to corral my online time. I was letting myself get sucked into surfing. A little surfing isn't a bad thing. But I was doing rather more than a little, and it seemed a good idea to corral it.

Cutting computer games was straightforward enough: if you go cold turkey you go cold turkey. But setting boundaries gets a little trickier than setting prohibitions. I decided to try to limit myself to not before noon and not after five. I wasn't planning on spending noon to five online, mind you. I was just going to concentrate on offline work all morning; if my offline projects went past noon, fine. If I got busy and couldn't get to my computer before five, I was going to skip the online world for the day. If I did get online, I was going to bail off as soon as I was done with what I was doing, or five or thereabouts at the latest.

It seemed a pretty good plan. And it has been a pretty good plan, all in all. The one big downside is that sometimes I'm finding myself repeatedly checking the clock during the pre-noon hours.

This morning, I had to laugh at myself. I got an earlier than usual start on the day, and I was sailing through both work and breaks. I even got a walk in before breakfast. I'm in one of my gimpy phases, and it was only a walk around the block using my cane, but I was pretty proud of myself for getting it done. I cleaned out the fridge. I got my Bible reading done. I read a few more chapters in a history book I'm reading. I laid in plans for stuff I need to do for the bookstore. I worked on book reviews and blog posts in my head. (That's probably cheating, I know, but there it is.) And so there I was, with blog posts in my head, and I looked at the clock and it was only 9:20. Before I caught myself, I exclaimed, right out loud, "It's only 9:20?!"

And then I laughed and laughed at myself. There weren't any other people around, by the way. And I hadn't exactly been asking God to check the time for me. I was just surprised at how long a morning can be when I get up early, and also cut out the worst time wasting activities.

When I got my breath back, I tried to think what I should be working on, other than blogging. And I got to work. And while I was working, it suddenly struck me, right out of the blue, that I had a serious error in a novel I'm writing. If we were being polite, we could call it a continuity error. Let us be frank and admit that I suddenly realized that something I had in the ending made no sense at all if you remembered a couple of things from the middle of the book. Yinga. I only started this book late last September, so I expect to have bugs to work out of it yet. But this was a doozy. It's a fantasy novel, or, at least, one set in an imaginary future. It's not like I can go to a reference and straighten myself out that way. It's a challenge to keep it tied together properly.

The mistake is fixed now, I think. I took those hours that looked terribly long until I could get online, and worked on my fiction, and the time was gone, just like that. In fact, it was after noon before I shook loose to come in here.

I've missed a couple of days of online time (five o'clock can come early, if you aren't careful), so I have some catching up to do, with bookstore-related work on top of the list, and blogging at the bottom. Expect blogging to be light for a while yet.

On the other hand, I've done some serious decluttering in the house, I've discovered a new bread recipe that we like a lot, I'm getting some serious spring cleaning done, the mending pile has been wiped out (how'd we get so many loose buttons?), a quilt that I'm finishing by hand is finally taking shape, and I'm having a blast.

If you're used to coming here for news, I'm sorry. I needed a break from news, I guess. What with better weather, longer hours of daylight, getting the house better organized and cleaned up, and avoiding the squabbles dear to the hearts of advocates and radicals of one stripe and another, I feel like I'm getting recharged. Well, except for some mornings, when I catch myself clock watching, and it feels like the time is dragging...

How does the saying go?: Good plan, needs work.

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