Claire King

Claire King Edited Choices (10 of 10)

Posts Tagged ‘Time’

About Time

Posted on: October 18th, 2015 by Claire - 12 Comments

I was reading this blog post by Bridport shortlisted writer Tracey Upchurch, who talks about the fact that her shortlisted story was the first she had written in two years. It got me thinking about the way time messes with us.


Two years? How does that happen? Sometimes life sweeps us up, and weeks and months and years just slip by without any discernible output. We have day jobs and families, people get sick or need support, or roofs leak or cars break down, or we are going through the process of editing and proofing a novel ready for publication, which eats up all those ‘spare’ hours we could be writing new things. Did it really take me four years to finish my second novel, and WHAT has happened to the 10 months since it sold? This is lubricious, unfathomable time that leaves us feeling a little baffled when we emerge, often years later, and can finally allow ourselves the time to put pen to paper again.*

But then there are the hours and days and weeks that seem to stretch on forever. The days when you’re waiting on news about competition results, or waiting to hear from an agent or a publisher. The dragging, torturous time that comes with an ache in your chest, and invisible filaments that tie you to the letterbox or the inbox or the phone.

And let’s not forget the kind of time that makes itself the focus of everything. The galloping, obtrusive time that happens when you’re on a deadline, or have a rush of words that you can’t get down fast enough. When you have a thousand things to do and they all need doing. When you are conscious of the need to make every every second count. Days when the clock is your master.

Strangest of all, perhaps, is the way these three states can co-exist, so that time can simultaneously drag and gallop, and yet still somehow slip away unnoticed.



I found that this kind of slippery time was affecting my reading too. Was it true I was only reading one book a month? Well yes, because when was my reading time supposed to happen exactly? An exhausted page or two before falling asleep at night. I’ve since instigated a virtual morning commute, where (when I’m at home) I sit for 30 minutes and read — once the kids are at school and the dog walked — as though I were travelling to my desk. Not only do I read more books again, but it also helps me get into the right frame of mind for writing after the rush and clamour of a school morning.


Image: Time Travel Haikus 5-7-5 photo by CityGypsy11 ( Creative Commons)

There’s no time…

Posted on: October 3rd, 2012 by Claire - 10 Comments


The clocks go back this month. And tonight my taxi driver commented that the nights are drawing in. Indeed on a recent post on this blog, Pete mentioned that the sun is setting around 2 minutes earlier every single day. And as we lose daylight we say the days are shorter. As though having less sunlight means we have less time somehow. Maybe it’s to do with having less motivation? After all our bodies think this is true: when it’s dark they want to sleep, right?

Meanwhile, my absolute most popular search term leading to this blog is…

“How long until a literary agent responds?”

Which is closely followed by:

“How long after submission until I hear from publisher?

“How long after agent to get book deal?”


“How long to publication?”

Funnily enough, not one person has ever arrived here by searching “How long will it take me to write my book?”… (although The Guardian now has one answer to that question)…or “How long will it take me to become a good writer?”

If you want to see my post on how long the agent thing took, you can click the link. And yes, it took over two years from signing my contract to my book launch, which is still 4 months off. And do you know what? 21 months ago, my launch date seemed like an eternity away. Now it’s four months off and looking back on those 21 months – during which time I have been writing book two – I wonder why I still haven’t finished my new novel and packed it off to my agent. Why? Because from a writing perspective time has flown.

So what I want to say is this. The answer to all of those questions above is out of your control. Don’t let yourself get into ‘The Waiting Place’ as Dr Seuss called it. Because what you can control is the time you spend on writing (or whatever else it is you want to achieve).

How much time? Can you manage an hour a day? You’d be amazed how much progress you will make if you can. If not, what about half an hour? If not then why on earth are you here spending time reading my blog?

In conclusion, I thought I would share with you something that I first read almost 20 years ago, when I was younger and thought I had all the time in the world. I don’t know who to attribute it to, but I like it. Hope you do too.

The Value of Time. 

If you want to know the value of one year, ask a student who failed a course.

If you want to know the value of one month, ask a mother who gave birth to a premature baby.

If you want to know the value of one day, ask the editor of a newspaper.

If you want to know the value of one hour, ask the lovers waiting to meet.

If you want to know the value of one minute, ask the person who just missed the train.

If you want to know the value of one second, ask the person who just avoided a serious car accident.

And if you want to know the value of one hundredth of a second, ask the athlete who won a silver medal in the Olympics


The gorgeous photo above is by Neal Fowler, via Flickr Creative Commons


Gone Fishing

Posted on: September 16th, 2010 by Claire - 10 Comments

I realised today that most of the thinking that went into formulating the plot and characters of my last novel took place years ago, before my brain was hijacked by small people (children, not pixies). In the Before Time I would walk in the mountains for miles and miles every day, letting ideas float in and out, picking up a few of them and playing with them as I walked. I would usually get home with a couple of well developed ideas or images as well as a few random phrases or questions to jot down and pick up later.

I finally sat down to write the novel at the end of last year. I wrote when the children were sleeping (by which time my brain was usually quite frazzled), and on trains on the way to my day job (when I was also trying to get my head around the complicated problems I had to help people tackle when I got there). I was lucky to average a quality hour of writing a day. But as you will know, the hours quickly add up. And all that thinking time and note taking and upfront preparation was a great springboard into the first draft.

This summer, with the submission packages posted and the waiting game begun, I started to think about my next novel. As per my recent routine I used the kids sleeping time (in the summer holidays, this is slim pickings indeed) but despite my very scenic garret my thoughts seemed hemmed in. Where was the spark of creativity?  I decided that I was just too tired by the time the house went quiet. I should try during the day. Big mistake (I already knew this, I blogged about it here). I found myself actually using the phrase ‘I can’t hear myself think!’

Thank goodness, then, for ‘La rentrée des classes’. This month my youngest started école maternelle. The first thing I did with my rediscovered me-time wasn’t sit down to write solidly all morning, but to take my dog yomps back up with a vengeance. That’s an hour an a half, four times a week, with no-one to talk to, just tromping around the scenery and thinking thoughts. And oh, the thoughts you can think when no-one needs your urgent attention.

I had forgotten how much my brain needed airing. All of this exercise and time to think is doing me and Novel #2 the power of good.

I do know I’m lucky to have the mountains to yomp in, and a sporadic day job that allows me my yomping time. So I’m curious, how do you fit it in? Do you have distinct thinking time when you are not actually putting pen to  paper? How does it work for you?