This is a blog I wrote just two years ago and it’s as pertinent today as then. Schedules and catch-up work after roaming Europe require me to put off being a creative blogger, at least for this week.
On January 26 of this year (2011), I posted the first blog for Writing 4 Death. On February 2, THE SCHEDULE (all caps is a must, to be a driven writer you must use CAPITALS), was announced. Two things: 1) As noted last week, I’m on schedule (for the new book) and in fact three weeks ahead, and 2) Where the hell has the year gone? On Friday, July 1, sometime during the middle of the afternoon or so, half of the year will be gone, disappeared, pulled anchor, faded away, kaput! Some will shed a tear, others thankful relief. And, dear reader, we are faced with the rest of the year. Can’t escape it, it is what it is.
(The above was written for the Sharon O’Mara Book Containers For Death which was Book Two in the series – I am working on Book Five now, working title Diamonds For Death, a little behind but pushing feverishly.)
Writers and time have lived with each other for thousands of years. The Odyssey is as much a sea-cruise as a battle against time. For Ulysses it wasn’t so much a Carnival ship “once in a life time adventure,” what with the Lotus-eaters, the Cyclops, Sirens and such, but it was a ten year cruise home (if you think about it, there are a lot of parallels with the S.S. Minnow, Gilligan’s Island and its advertised “three-hour tour”).
The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde, holds time in suspension for one man, but time can’t be foiled; something has to age. Almost every story requires a process of time and events, each leading to and supporting the other. H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, pushes us through the barriers of mortality and allows the traveler to live in a time not his own, but to move, almost eternally, back and forth. We wonder, Is it possible?
Time is the stuff of writers; we are shape-shifters, we mold time to our needs and desires, we distort it, collapse it, and for some stories freeze time for some (or allow it to move very slowly) while we accelerate it for other characters in the same story. One of my favorite movies is Portrait of Jennie (1948) based on Robert Nathan’s novella, where two people of different times fall in love, the ending, while dramatic leaves the romantic in me saddened.
Time attacks the writer in a number of ways. The time needed to write the damn thing (it becomes that damn thing at some point), the time to edit it, the time to produce the final manuscript; impatience is its step-brother. The story or book itself is a progression of time: hours, a day (Dan Brown’s books), weeks, months, and seasons. My forthcoming novel, Elk River, (published in 2011), all takes place in one summer in 1956, yet relives years, decades, and even generations of the Smith family.
How we twist the hours and days into interesting interconnected moments that are strung together makes us writers. While there are other equally important parts to writing: the mundane and glorious sentences, the ‘ideology’, the voice, the themes, Hemingway’s ‘True Self’ (whatever that is – go see the movie Midnight in Paris), the editor, the publisher, and even the printer. Me, I vote for the manipulation of time as the most important.
More Later . . . . . . .