Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Time Out

I have been contemplating the idea of time, lately. Constructing and respecting a time frame has been one of the many challenges I've had with my writing. I don't, of course, include my poems in this worrisome category, since they exist out of all time frames.

I try, very hard, as I am constructing a world, to stay as close as possible to the way reality works, in order for the fictional world to be easily recognizable. However, time is one concept that has been so difficult to frame. The last three weeks, for instance, have been packed with so much that needed to be taken care of, that even attempts at prioritizing seemed ridiculous, and ultimately, only whatever I had the time for, got taken care of. The rest awaits.

If I am unable to manage my work and time to handle my real expectations and responsibilities, how can I presume to manage a fictional time frame?

As if to reinforce my failures, now, almost all the clocks in my house have stopped telling the real time. It seems to defy logic, but suddenly, in tandem, the two clocks in the living room and kitchen stare belligerently and blankly, refusing to move their hands, even though they both continue to tick in some kind of a cosmic mockery.

The other two clocks take turns running 10 minutes ahead and 5 minutes behind, so I never get a clear view of my temporal compasses.

My friends just laugh it off, saying I need to make the time to change all their batteries, shaking their heads at my neurotic fear of a cosmic sign, full of foreboding. Of course, I can hear how uncomfortable and uneasy their laughter is, tinged with obvious relief, thank heavens this is not happening to them.

This is exactly how time has been treating my fictional world as well: I needed a story to be contained within a morning, but it seems to want to go farther back, years back, even, trace itself to its present moment, resisting all confinement the unity of time demands of me.

I have shelved that story for the time being, and have begun another one with less rigid time-constraints. Of course, that one is taking too long to reach where it needs to.

As a child, when I first began writing, I used to begin at the climax of the plot and weave people, events, feelings, objects around it, like a quilt. This practice, of course, is one of the greatest qualifiers of my efficiency as an instructor of thesis statements, and it has drawn me so close to quilting as a hobby (when I have the time).

Maybe that's the practice I need to go back to? But no; doing things the same way feels a little nauseous, as though no matter how much I walk, I don't get any farther, rather like using a treadmill than walking to a grocery store. That is one of the fears I have: to produce by rote so that I explore no new lands within myself.

Maybe the time is merely out of joint and I just need to wait to right itself back?

I could be feeling this temporal dislocation because I shall have made two international trips in three and half months. I shall have lost and gained so many days, hours, the very prospect defeats my every effort at controlling and managing the times I live in between those trips.

One of my students claims someone owes him a Saturday. He lost it somewhere between the two coasts of this huge continent and wonders if it means that he will live a day less. Fortunately, since we were in a Fairytale class, I could assure him he'd be awarded his lost Saturday in a chthonic package, either in a Dream, during a Journey, or a in similar archetypal time-frame.

However, once I left the class-room (and the space-time of Fairytales), I've wondered about my lost time too.

I sincerely hope that I, too, get these weeks back in some way, since they too, are what I'd log in as "lost."

Of course, that begs the question: What exactly is found time, then?

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