Re: Thirty, rest, and motion.

Udhay Shankar N (
Tue, 14 Dec 1999 10:33:16 -0800

At 00:23 12/14/1999 -0800, Adam Rifkin -4K wrote:

>Udhay wrote:
> > I suspect many such comments would have gone e2e, directly to Adam.
>They did. At first I spent countless seconds crafting replies. But
>then I remembers that life is not lost by dying; life is lost minute by
>minute, day by dragging day, in all the many keyboard-typing ways.

Neal Stephenson on "Why I Am A Bad Correspondent" (he sent me a polite
little note saying essentially the same thing as this web page, along with
a qualified cheer for silk <> -- something
on the lines of "looks interesting, but I don't have the time") :

"Writing novels is hard, and requires vast, unbroken slabs of time. Four
quiet hours is a resource that I can put to good use. Two slabs of time,
each two hours long, might add up to the same four hours, but are not
nearly as productive as an unbroken four. If I know that I am going to be
interrupted, I can't concentrate, and if I suspect that I might be
interrupted, I can't do anything at all. Likewise, several consecutive days
with four-hour time-slabs in them give me a stretch of time in which I can
write a decent book chapter, but the same number of hours spread out across
a few weeks, with interruptions in between them, are nearly useless.

The productivity equation is a non-linear one, in other words. This
accounts for why I am a bad correspondent and why I very rarely accept
speaking engagements. If I organize my life in such a way that I get lots
of long, consecutive, uninterrupted time-chunks, I can write novels. But as
those chunks get separated and fragmented, my productivity as a novelist
drops spectacularly. What replaces it? Instead of a novel that will be
around for a long time, and that will, with luck, be read by many people,
there is a bunch of e-mail messages that I have sent out to individual
persons, and a few speeches given at various conferences."

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