Snippets and snapshots…a tableau of evidentiary pieces supporting the “That Mysterious Rubber Band Called Time” hypothesis.
The Pre-Hypnotic Suggestion
I buy a book called “How To Write A Screenplay In Twenty-One Days.” I read the book.
I then proceed to write a screenplay in exactly twenty-one days.
You hand in your pilot, and then wait for the network to respond. Every second feels like a week and a half.
I am delivered home after a sixteen-hour day on The Cosby Show, I blink my eyes, and I am sitting in the car, on the way back to work.
The Subjective Click Track
Every week, my wonderful piano teacher Gary assigns me some homework from a book called Hanon: The Virtuoso Pianist – In Sixty Exercises. While practicing, my metronome clicks out a steady tempo. An element of the assignment involves playing in time with the metronome.
This is what I experience during my week of preparation:
When I am learning the assignment, the metronome tempo is too fast, and I cannot keep up with it. After practicing a few days, the metronome and I are in sync. And when I’ve mastered the exercise, the metronome feels draggingly slow. Even though it is clicking at the same tempo during each of those three different junctures.
(Okay, I know why it feels fast at the beginning of my practicing. But I am less clear on why it feels draggy at the end. Beyond its specificity, I invite you to savor this temporal relativism as an overarching metaphor.)
Necessity Is The Mother Of Compression
As a rule, I need three to four hours to prepare a publishable blog post. A friend informs me he’ll be dropping by for a visit, at a time that will require me to get my work done in an hour and a half.
I produce an entirely acceptable blog post in an hour and a half.
“The Habitual” (Or “The Enjoyable”)
Following a succession of annoyingly late arrivals home by his writer-wife induced by a series of horrendously long rewrite nights, the writer’s perplexed husband – a “non-pro” as they call it, designating a non-participant in show business – issues a confrontational challenge.
The “non-pro” husband proposes that, as an experiment, writing staffs be allotted a predetermined number of hours to complete a rewrite – his suggestion being two hours – so as to test the proposition that, given a hard deadline, the writers would complete the rewrite in that time, rather than dragging things out until two in the morning.
I am not aware that this proposal was ever seriously considered. Leading me to suspect that the extended rewrite night process has evolved over time into an a established traditional habit. Or that a substantial number of TV writers secretly enjoy the rewrite night give-and-take, and they want it to last as long as it does.
Personalizing the issue – as I inevitably do – my musings take me back to the previous example, in which I mentioned that, barring rare occasions where I am externally pressed for time, my blog posts take me three to four hours to complete, leaving me to wonder if the work takes that long because, for some inexplicable reason, I want it to.
I have demonstrated I can finish the work in an hour and a half. Why would I insist it take longer? And if I am not insisting it take longer, why does it?
And demonstrably elastic.