Re: Thirty, rest, and motion.

Cynthia Dale (
Tue, 14 Dec 1999 15:23:52 -0500 (EST)

And he's absolutely right. I'm in a timespace where all my "unbroken
slabs" are used up on doing technical stuff, and, as a result, have
written nothing but emails and a few scatter-brained poems. I miss the
days when I could count on getting all my classes scheduled for Tuesday
and Thursday and knew that I could use the other 5 days to write until I
fell over. I was thinking about writing a book called something like
-Writing in Small Finite Spaces in Time- but I couldn't find anything
worth saying in my small finite spaces of time. (:

I just hope that people still read books. They tell me they do, and I
almost believe them, but mostly what I see is people browsing the web for
'snackfood' type stuff, quotes, logos, jokes of the day. I used to tell
Barthelme that I had to write fast-food literature, cuz that's all anyone
ever had time for anymore, and though I didn't believe myself then, I do
now, and it makes me feel a lot older than 30something.

Cynthia J. Dale
Technical Engineer/FAQ maintainer
Red Hat, Inc.


On Tue, 14 Dec 1999, Udhay Shankar N wrote:

> At 00:23 12/14/1999 -0800, Adam Rifkin -4K wrote:
> >Udhay wrote:
> > > I suspect many such comments would have gone e2e, directly to Adam.
> >
> >They did. At first I spent countless seconds crafting replies. But
> >then I remembers that life is not lost by dying; life is lost minute by
> >minute, day by dragging day, in all the many keyboard-typing ways.
> Neal Stephenson on "Why I Am A Bad Correspondent" (he sent me a polite
> little note saying essentially the same thing as this web page, along with
> a qualified cheer for silk <> -- something
> on the lines of "looks interesting, but I don't have the time") :
> "Writing novels is hard, and requires vast, unbroken slabs of time. Four
> quiet hours is a resource that I can put to good use. Two slabs of time,
> each two hours long, might add up to the same four hours, but are not
> nearly as productive as an unbroken four. If I know that I am going to be
> interrupted, I can't concentrate, and if I suspect that I might be
> interrupted, I can't do anything at all. Likewise, several consecutive days
> with four-hour time-slabs in them give me a stretch of time in which I can
> write a decent book chapter, but the same number of hours spread out across
> a few weeks, with interruptions in between them, are nearly useless.
> The productivity equation is a non-linear one, in other words. This
> accounts for why I am a bad correspondent and why I very rarely accept
> speaking engagements. If I organize my life in such a way that I get lots
> of long, consecutive, uninterrupted time-chunks, I can write novels. But as
> those chunks get separated and fragmented, my productivity as a novelist
> drops spectacularly. What replaces it? Instead of a novel that will be
> around for a long time, and that will, with luck, be read by many people,
> there is a bunch of e-mail messages that I have sent out to individual
> persons, and a few speeches given at various conferences."
> --
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