What You Make of Time

Time takes on a very strange connotation when it comes to writing. Ok it’s not only with writing since most people experience that time flies when you’re having fun and crawls when you’re bored. But time seems to take a life of its own when you write or plan to write or procrastinate to write. It has a whimsical bent and is neurotic, bipolar and slightly schitzophrenic. Don’t believe me? Take an alarm clock and set it to go off in 10 minutes. Now start writing. Really, start writing, and then come back, I’ll still be here.

…10 minute writing break…

Did you just stare at the post, shrug and continue reading? See, 10 minutes didn’t mean that much, did it?

Did you really do the exercise? Was it the most grueling 10 minutes of your life? No, then it was 10 minutes you spent writing. Did it seem long, short, or did it just feel like 10 minutes?

Ok, this is going to boggle your mind, what if I told you that I also took the break for writing, when I wrote ….10 minute writing break…? Did those ten minutes really exist? Ok, ok , no existential stuff then, but just imagine: I wrote this in the past, but you are reading it now. You still get to read these words. The time was spent as I said,and when you skipped over the ‘break’ that was still 10 minutes spent on writing, it was not your 10 minutes but mine, which still counts as 10 minutes… 10 minutes compressed into 4 words and 2 empty lines.

See, I told you time was strange when it comes to writing.

Sofia

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4 thoughts on “What You Make of Time

  1. Yes, it amounts to that famous quote from some famous writer who said,”This letter would have been shorter if I only had more time to write it.”

    Meaning, of course, how difficult it is to be pithy and concise, using well chosen words. All that takes time. Consider the hundreds of pages thrown out to write a novel. All of that time condensed in the remaining pages. Think of haiku, like taking a 10 pounds of raspberries and simmering them with a bit of sugar, straining the juice, and ending up with a pint of exquisite syrup.

    In a way, we’re talking about distillation.

    “10 minutes compressed into 4 words and 2 empty lines”

    I like that phrase.

    1. Thanks Julianne! Poetry and prose can be distillation of time, but they are also so much more, like raspberry jam, it took a lot of raspberries to make. You can almost taste the ‘time’ that is concentrated into the syrup or the writing.

  2. The perception of time is one of the main differences, in my mind, between prose and scripts. In a script, your characters have to talk to each other like a normal conversation. In a novel, character 1 can say something, and you can then have several pages of character 2 pondering their words, analysing their meaning and reflecting on old memories that their words have ignited in their minds, but in ‘novel time’, while the gap between character 1 speaking and character 2 replying is a matter of seconds or less, in ‘reader time’ those phrases could be ten minutes or so apart.

    1. It is a big difference, also because a script is designed to ultimately be ‘seen’ in images, or listened to in the narration alongside the (moving) image. To me they are also similar, for example, in script writing you can also make the ‘and 5 years later’ leap from one image to the next, just like you can do in prose.

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