Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Where has the Year Gone?

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 driven you must use CAPITALS), was announced. Two things: 1) As noted last week, I’m on schedule with Toulouse 4 Death 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 is 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.

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. Now 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 (or allow it to move very slowly) while we accelerate it for other characters. 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 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, seasons (my novel Elk River, out this fall, all takes place in one summer in 1956 – yes, that’s three time references), years, decades, and even generations of families.

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 TIME, not the magazine but the little space between now and then.

Stay tuned . . . .

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