Friday, July 29, 2011

15 Minutes

Julie Cannon was scheduled to post a blog today, but couldn’t do it because just now she’s on deadline to turn in her new book to her publisher, so I said I could fill in. I figured it’d take me about fifteen minutes.

15 minutes a day.

Isn’t that what everything seems to take?

On the exercise commercials the pretty blond spokeswoman says you can have flat abs, tight butt, strong arms, etc if you workout just fifteen minutes a day.

You can retire wealthy beyond the dreams of avarice if you devote just fifteen minutes a day to managing your investments.

Your house will be immaculate. Fifteen minutes a day, every day, cleaning and straightening.

Spend fifteen minutes a day talking to your spouse. Meditating. Reading the Bible. Practicing the banjo. Cooking low-fat, low-sodium, low-carb meals that yet are tasty and delicious. Crocheting. Memorizing Shakespeare. Teaching the dog tricks. Oil painting. Doing yoga.

Every goal you could ever wish to achieve, it seems, can be within your grasp if you spend just fifteen minutes a day, every day, doing it.

Of course, if we spent fifteen minutes a day doing all the things the experts tell us can be done in fifteen minutes, we’d need a 72-hour day. 72 hours and fifteen minutes – don’t forget to take time out to plan your day.

Time is limited, and of what there is of it, we have to devote some of to certain activities. A good nights’ sleep, for example, takes at least ten to twelve hours. You cannot possibly take a respectable shower in under forty-five minutes. Nor can a civilized human be expected to go twenty-four hours without watching three hours of “My Name is Earl” reruns. Time must  be spent mixing martinis.  More time, drinking martinis.  It all adds up.  So given the fact that the supply of fifteen-minute increments of time are not infinite, what will you do with the one fifteen-minute slice you may reasonably be able to set aside for something?

In my case it’s writing.

This is no more desirable, and in some respects it’s a lot less so, than many activities I could think of. I wake up each morning and spend fifteen minutes writing. Sometimes a little more, but rarely much more.

And that’s what I do. My room is not spotless. I do not have buns of steel. I cannot play the banjo, and my dog will not play dead. My garden needs weeding. But I’ve written and published two novels and I’m working on a third.

It really is amazing what you can accomplish in fifteen minutes a day.

The New York Post calls Man Martin’s second novel, Paradise Dogs, “required reading.” Man Martin publicly retracts any harsh thing he ever said about Yankees and about New Yorkers in particular. He is writing his third novel, fifteen minutes at a time. He blogs at

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