I'm in one of those small streaks of writing that makes me a writer. I mean simply that I actually am writing: for each of the past several days I've worked on the script that is my main project, a play called "Ghost." I'm once again thinking about time scales. There's the question of how many minutes of theatre I've so far orchestrated; the question of how much time has passed in the world of the play; there are the days of my composition ("several"), but there are also the minutes and hours I've spent sitting in front of my computer, adding word after word to the document; then, too, there is the time I've devoted to thinking about the play and its characters when I'm not actually writing.
Is there an insight here? Is there something to say about the time scales that fold over themselves as we live? Do writers grapple with these multiple scales more than other artists? more than non-artists? And is sensitivity to time something one should – or can – value?
I suspect I'd rather have a clear sense of timing than a clear sense of time, or of time's complexities. In chess, which I've been playing a lot of in between my bouts with words, the clock often matters, but one can improve one's game much more by thinking clearly through the order of moves in one's plan of attack than by trying, somehow, to think faster. "Think fast," says someone who teases you and then either does or does not throw you something. But the person who says "Think fast" usually tests your reflexes or catches you thinking too much. An alternative imperative, "Think hard!" does not invoke time so explicitly, but if one says it seriously, one usually means, "Slow down; take stock; consider before you act." I find it a little bit frustrating that neither of these injunctions applies to my writing, to my being a writer. To think fast, I'd have to rely on something like a writing reflex – and wouldn't it be nice if I had one; and to think hard I'd have to postpone the work itself. "Write!" I tell myself, "Think!" – compact imperatives that leave the time scales up in the air.