6 October 2022
Your Performance Review is a podcast from the future. It takes place in 2036 and has a mixed cast of humans and synthetic people. I’m getting ready to launch the series and release episode one. I have the trailer ready now. Click here to listen. The coming ten episodes of Your Performance Review will be available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music, and all your favorite podcast listening platforms. Once I start posting regular episodes, there will be one per week.
My novel Surrender is with the proofreader. The designer is sending me some early ideas for the cover. He asked that we go through a few more rounds of design ideas before I show it to you, so look for those proofs in next week’s newsletter. I’ve started outlining the sequel book to Surrender. The way I’ve learned to get started on a new novel is to write a terrible film treatment of it. I just want to tell myself the story, staying away from any literary flourishes or fancy stuff. I want to see where it will take me and hear the characters speak, asking to be in the story. It’s a topic for another newsletter, why characters find their way into stories, but for now, a bad film treatment is a great way to get a story going.
I’ve learned, to get all this work done, I need a twenty-fifth hour in the day. If you’d like a twenty-fifth hour for yourself, here’s how to make one.
You get up earlier. You exercise, maybe go for a run. You feed the cat, walk the dog, make your breakfast and your kids’ breakfast. You take everyone to school who needs to get there. You need time to meditate, so you take ten minutes, and then realize that you only have six. You meditate for six. Your intentions are good. Somehow, you notice, it’s already noon.
I am not a morning person. My mornings burn off quickly. The light changes too fast. I look up, and it’s noon. The night is better. Time slips by silently. The world is waiting for the morning to come, but with grace. A lamp spreads its cone of light on my papers. The keyboard sounds loud, but the neighbors never notice because I am the last person in the world working late at night.
That scene is just a fantasy for me now. I don’t work in restaurant kitchens anymore, so can’t sleep late in the morning and start work at four in the afternoon. It’s all a numbers game, and the best way to work it is to cheat. No matter what else is happening, just move the creative work you have up to the top of the day. Create a twenty-fifth hour, and put it first, so it doesn’t drop off the schedule. Time is easily compressed, like tofu.
That’s not a random reference.
I learned only recently that to get your tofu to be crispy, you have to put some paper towels on a plate, put your tofu on top, put more paper towels on the tofu, and then add a large, heavy frying pan. The frying pan presses the excess water out of the tofu. You need only ten minutes of tofu-compression to make it work. The tofu will be crispy when you cook it because you have prepared for the moment when it meets the fire.
If you want a twenty-fifth hour in your day, you have to prepare for it, like preparing crispy tofu.
You may be a morning person, so your twenty-fifth hour would go at the top of the day, before the cat hears the birds and asks to be fed. Your twenty-fifth hour may come at lunchtime, when people are too busy eating cheese sandwiches to press send on an email.
Very likely, you won’t have much luck with a twenty-fifth hour in the afternoon. When I’ve tried that, it slips off the schedule. If you want to cheat time, just sixty minutes a day (not much time, after all), do the thing you most want to do first, as early as you can.
Thanks for reading,
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