The Emporium Gazette
Issue 13 -- June 2000

A Timely Thought
by Bob Nailor

My grandmother, who lived with us when I was a child, would spot a small seam rip and immediately call me over to her while she grabbed a needle and thread. Quick as ever she'd whip the needle into the fabric and fix the offending seam. Then she'd say, 'A stitch in time, saves nine' and I'd make the usual confused frown.

"Saves nine what, grandma?"

"Nine more stitches. Take care of it now with a quick stitch, or fix it with a major sewing repair later."

I was a young male and that phrase was obviously for girls only.

Well, I've matured and the many passing decades were good to me. First, I've realized that 'girl stuff' is for the uninitiated. Other than giving birth, both sexes can do about anything they want, if they so desire. Therefore sewing is not for girls only.

Second. That phrase is very true, but for me, it doesn't relate to sewing. It's all about writing.

How many times have you thought of the perfect ending, great twist, or fantastic story only to lose it before you locked it on paper?

I've had that problem many times over the years and finally found a solution.

The solution actually came about in a very subtle manner. I was busy scribbling (pre-laptop computer days) down a short story that I was working on during my one hour train ride home from work. Suddenly a lightbulb turned on over my head and the problem that I'd been trying to resolve in a book I was working on was apparent. I skipped to the back of the spiral notebook and jotted down the thought.

When I got home to my computer, I yanked the pad from my briefcase and dove into the book, correcting the bad plot I had labored over to the new one I'd thought about on the train.

On that same train, in the morning, I would fall asleep until it arrived at the station. During the transit, I would dream about different things, sometimes the chapter I was working on or future chapters. When I awoke I'd rush to my office which was just outside the station. By the time I'd get there, the dream was that, just a figment of my imagination.

Now I always carry a notepad with me so I can write down any thoughts I've had. When I'd awake from sleep on the train with a great idea, it was just a second and the pencil was in hand writing it down. Even if all I wrote cryptic ideas of what I'd envisioned, the bottom line was: I had it on paper!

Of course, when you don't ride the train, but travel by car, some modification has to be made. Get a small hand-held tape recorder, but carry that notepad, nonetheless.

A wannabe will find every excuse why they can't write, the most common denominator being: not enough time. If you want to write, you'll find the time and I'll show you where you can glean some hidden minutes.

I've already discussed public transportation so I won't delve into that much further other than to say that my current forty-five minute bus ride has allowed me time to write quite a few short stories.

I'm sure the eyebrows went up when I said personal car. I know that you're driving, but do you really need to listen to the radio? If you're headed for a traffic jam, more than likely all other routes are going to be congested. So, when given lemons, make lemonade. Use a handheld tape recorder and talk away. You can always type it in later and more than likely enhance what you noted. The major item here is: you have the basics down. At least when you're sitting at the keyboard, you can be typing in what you already have; not thinking about what you're going to do.

I was in a major snarl for 1-1/2 hours. Did I fume and get upset? Yeah, a little, but I also got some major writing completed. I used my notepad and had the radio going. An occasional look over my dash told me that traffic wasn't moving, yet.

Lunch time. That's a given. Grab a sandwich, chips and drink; head to the park and write.

Waiting rooms. I've done my stint in waiting rooms. Sure, at times it will appear callous to be sitting there typing away on a laptop or writing in a notepad. Writer's are people of experience. Use the emotion of the moment and write. It will move you farther along toward your goal instead of sitting there reading old magazines or watching cartoons on the television.

A stitch in time saves nine. Actually, it means something totally different from what my grandmother taught me. A note in time saves nine re-writes trying to remember that one moment.

Do I actually save time? Sure. This article was conceived, written, and edited on bus rides, one of which I had the pleasure to endure a traffic snarl. It was typed in during lunch, with the final edit at home.

So, my question is: Are you wannabe, or...

Bob Nailor is author of "The Secret Voice," an Amish-Christian story, "Pangaea, Eden Lost," an adventure story, "Three Steps: The Journeys of Ayrold," a Celtic fantasy, and "2012: Timeline Apocalypse," an end-of-time tale. He is also included in several anthologies and collections. Check his website at

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