Will You Play Beat the Clock or Learn to Clock Your Beat?--Reb MacRath



Sooner or later, most of us come to the crosshairs of Time: We've fallen short of our deadlines and dreams of fame, success, wealth, acclaim, true love, and six-pack abs. Now, in our fifties or later, the pressure's on to Beat the Clock: write more books, attend more cons, hustle online for more hours each day, grovel still more shameles8sly for that promotion at work/that award...

What else are you to do with younger rivals nipping at your heels and older pros passing on the shit they've had dumped on their heads while your timelines grows shorter and shorter?



All these glum thoughts plagued me five months after moving to Tucson, where I'd planned to soar, reborn from the ashes I'd left behind me in Seattle.

Instead, I found myself in the crosshairs, hobbled by a knee injury, unable to get around the town as well as I'd hoped, trapped in a job that was wrong in most ways, and drifting further by the day from the drudgery of transcribing my drafted Work in Progress. Why bother, after all, etc, etc., etc.? Wasn't I better off surrendering to the least practical passion on earth: studying and translating Latin?

But, lo, crushed between the crosshairs, a cool and interesting thing occurred: as I often do, I played with words and thought about Clocking my Beat. Well, of course, I had to wonder what the devil that meant. I began with the word 'beat': the regular route walked by a foot patrolman. His job, and perhaps his life, depend on his knowing it well...and his commitment to mastering his turf. 

But what exactly is my beat as a hobbled older writer eluded so far by commercial success...a stranger in a great city that's tough to get around in...an older man with a passion for a long-dead language...a student at an age when all teachers have retired?

When I thought of these things not as curses but as components of my Beat--a unique path that I have been assigned to travel--I felt my spirit come to life. The next step, though, is critical:

Now I need to Clock my Beat.

Now that I've defined my Beat, I need a daily schedule that advances my twin sides: the writer and the Latin student. (3-4 hours per day for both.)

I need to be far more aggressive with the personal injury attorneys who've stalled for three years on what should have been a slam dunk auto injury. Any settlement would finance promotion of my work. (First emails week of January 16.)

I need to apply for remote proofreading work, perfect Profile and redo resume. (End of January);

I need to overcome my fear of starting a new mystery series when I finish the WIP. (Fall 2023)

Visit Classics Dept at Univrersity of Arizona with copies of my Latin translation and new business card. (End of March 2023)

And on. There's no way, I know, of escaping all forms of Beat the Clock. But my sights are firmly set on mastering Clocking my Beat.

This is my report.



Welcome to MacRathWorld, if you like premium blends of mystery, action, and suspense. From Caesar's Rome to Seattle today, the twists fly at the speed of night. If you're unfamiliar with my work, I recommend starting with the new Seattle BOP mysteries. Here's the link to my AuthorPage on Amazon for a detailed look at the variety of 'rides' in my amusement park.



Bill Kirton said…
I think the word 'indefatigable' was coined for you, Reb. (No idea what it is in Latin, however.)
Bon courage, my friend. Your stamina (and output) are staggering.
Peter Leyland said…
Any major change takes time to bed in Reb. From your reports you are doing well, particularly the ones about the food deliveries. You can't wait for age to overtake you, I agree, but between ourselves it never does. One day you are waiting for the postman and the next day a letter arrives. The only question then is what does it contain?

Philosophically yours, from Peter
Reb MacRath said…
Thank you kindly, Bill. I can't say I feel indefatigable. But the more carefully I clock my beat the less beaten I feel by the clock.
Reb MacRath said…
Peter, you're right. So often, though, when that letter arrives it says the letter we await will be delayed a bit longer. :)
Elizabeth Kay said…
I have recently felt beaten by arthritis in my dominant hand, which stops me writing on anything except a computer, and two less than perfect cataract operations which stop me reading on anything except a Kindle or a computer. Having now retired from teaching, I suddenly realised that I really miss it - the face to face stuff, not the online marking. So a couple of days ago I decided to host free writing day at my house. I contacted old students, some of whom have found publishers, and the response has been overwhelming. So now I have to look at a ms I have been avoiding for three years, because I've told everyone to bring a page of something they're stuck with, and I can't exclude myself... I love your posts, Reb, and I don't feel I'm getting old alone.
Reb MacRath said…
Thanks so much, Elizabeth. You're really not alone at all.

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