There’s a beautiful bit of a Mumford & Sons song that has always resonated with me, and in particular echoes in my mind when I’m faced with critical choices:
In these bodies we will live
In these bodies we will die
Where you invest your love
You invest your life
These simple assertions help put my mortal existence into perspective. “This is all you get,” they chide. “What are you going to do with it?” Sometimes when making decisions I hear the refrain and mentally rephrase it:
Where you invest your time
You invest your life
Time is all we have, all that separates us from living in these bodies now and dying in them later. The way we use our precious time reflects what we love in life—or at least, it should. Shouldn’t it? When we’re in doubt about what to do next, doesn’t it make sense to ask ourselves where it’s worth investing our love and our time?
These lyrics capture why I resigned from my good safe full-time office job ten months ago. I truly liked the company and I was lucky to learn all I could from my colleagues there over the years, but when it came down to it, I didn’t particularly want to invest any more of my mortal self there.
I reclaimed my time so I could invest it in what I loved.
Of course, a girl’s got to eat, so I quickly sent out a slew of resumes and cobbled together a handful of part-time positions whose flexible hours freed up my afternoons. Thanks to savings, budgets, boring odd jobs, and a lot of good fortune (I’m an incredibly lucky person) I was at last able to spend most of my days writing.
In the first five months I worked furiously and managed to draft a whole novel. 90,000 words! A title! A real live book, just itching to be edited and submitted and published. I was flying high.
Then in the second five months… I floundered about a bit.
To be fair, that time was productive too, really. I attended authors’ conferences and seminars, educated myself about the publishing industry, pitched essays and stories to various periodicals, and participated in my local writing group each week. I blogged and reviewed a few books, for fun and to get some of my words out in the world. Most importantly, I partnered with an excellent editor who helped me chart a course for revising my manuscript; I even gave everyone a few guarded glimpses into my editing progress.
But that editing progress has been slower than I hoped. Between the odd jobs and the myriad writing-related side projects and, well, general living, I neglected to invest enough time in the novel. The other day I paged through the work I’ve done so far, then flipped ahead to the many chapters that still await my attention, and those rephrased lyrics played in my head…
“Where you invest your time, you invest your life.”
Five months of furious writing; five months of floundering. Surely rewrites shouldn’t take longer than writes, right? It was time to make a decision. Mumford & Sons echoed as I sat down and devised a new schedule, a new strategy for the foreseeable future.
It comes down to this: finishing the novel will be my priority. All these smaller writing projects will wait.
As part of this plan I’m taking a hiatus from blog-writing this month. Yes, dear loyal readers, you will be deprived of my weekly musings, and I hope you’ll suffer the loss with grace and strength. [Offers consolatory handkerchief.]
I wish you all a bright, sunny June investing your time in whatever you love. May you have a good D Day, Flag Day, Ramadan, Father’s Day, and Summer Solstice in my absence! I’ll be back in July with, fingers crossed, good news about the state of the manuscript. See you for the Independence Day fireworks, friends.
Time is the most valuable coin in your life. You and you alone will determine how that coin will be spent.
American poet, writer, and editor