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Bob Nailor

A Timely Thought

My grandmother, who lived with us when I was a child, would spot a small rip in a shirt seam 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' to which 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 figured that phrase was obviously for girls only.

Well, I've matured and the many passing decades have been 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?

Perhaps you've not had to deal with it, but I've had that problem many times over the years and finally found a solution. The perfect solution but not at my computer.

The solution actually came about in a very subtle manner. I was busy scribbling (pre-laptop days) down a short story I was working on during my several one hour train rides home from work. Suddenly a lightbulb turned on over my head and the problem I'd been trying to resolve in a book I had been working on was now blazingly 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. But unfortunately, by the time I'd get there, the dream was that, just a figment of my imagination.

Now I always carry a pen and 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 moments delay and with said pen in hand, I was writing it down. Even if all I wrote were 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 personal 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. Plus, sometimes you'll get lucky and have a newly self-proclaimed editor sitting next to you, reading over your shoulder and correcting or suggesting.

I'm sure the eyebrows went up when I said personal car. I know 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 just as 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. To attempt this in a car-pool can be difficult, at best, either as the driver or passenger.

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 quick meal and drink; head to the park or nearby bench and write. Do you really need to sit with the gang and gossip every day? Even sitting at your desk, if allowed, to eat your meal and work is getting some writing done. Remember, lunch is YOUR time, use it.

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. Waiting rooms are for waiting; be it another fifteen minutes until the doctor sees you or three hours awaiting the outcome of the surgery. It is waiting time, not wasting time.

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 lone lost moment.

Do I actually save time? Sure. This article was conceived, written, and first-pass edited on bus rides, during which, one time, I had the pleasure to endure a traffic snarl to delay my trip home by almost forty-five minutes. This same article was typed in during lunch, with the final edits performed at home.

So, my question is -- Are you wannabe?

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Totally true! Tapping into the creative side of the brain is a great moemnt. And I'm just realizing that sometimes, I've been using the logical side of my brain all day, which is what makes it difficult to get into the writing mode. If I take a few minutes to cater to my creative side, it works!@Laura Thank you! Lots of music inspires me usually I have one or two soundtracks/albums for each project I'm working on. That way, when I listen to that music, I'm immediately taken back into the world of my novel. For this book, I'm listening to the Newsboys Go album, and Lord of the Rings Return of the King soundtrack for more pensive/dramatic moemnts.
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