Sunday, January 9, 2011

All in Good Time

by Jeffe Kennedy

Sunrise on the morning of the Winter Solstice, after the long night of the full moon and lunar eclipse.

When the seven of us first planned how we'd do this blog, we decided to create some consistency with weekly themes. We each proposed a list of 8-10 possible themes, then voted on our favorites. KAK took the top 52 and put them in a Google calendar for us. 2011 is all mapped out.

Each of us posts on the same day each week. I asked for Sunday because I post to my own blog on Monday through Friday. We decided to start on January 1, which has a nice symmetry for me, since I started mine on January 1 also, two years ago. Allison would write a kick-off post, since this was all her idea.

Somehow, in all that deciding and wrangling, I ended up being the one to introduce the topic each week.



Welcome to Time week.

Have I ever mentioned I'm not very good at time?

I like things associated with time. I have some antique watches, some that work, some that don't. I like to track the full moons, the the solstices and the equinoxes, the rhythm of the seasons. Perhaps that's because time has always been just a little bit beyond me.

David gets annoyed with me if I wake in the middle of the night and want to look at the clock. I have to see, so I know if it's midnight or two or nearly time to get up. Sometimes I wake ten minutes before the alarm and, particularly on dark mornings, it feels just the same to me as two in the morning. Or midnight. He says if I just trust my internal clock, I'll know what time it is.

I picture my internal clock like something out of Willy Wonka, with the hands running madly in two different directions and brass coils springing out of it.

David now - we can be in the middle of the mountains and he'll squint at the sun, look at the shadow cast by his hand and estimate the time within 15 minutes.

I try not to hate him for this.

But really, I think it's a talent of mine, the losing of time. When I was a little kid, I worked on projects, oblivious to the passage of time, until my mother stood over me asking didn't I realize it was time for dinner, the movie, to open Christmas presents, what have you. Of course I didn't realize. Now, when I write, I reclaim some of that. I disappear from the world of ticking clocks and sink into the land that is whatever time I want it to be. When I'm watching the clock, the writing feels bad. When two hours have gone by without me noticing, then things have gone well.

Losing time has become not a handicap, but a gift. I keep my schedules and spreadsheets. I can time a fancy dinner so that all the dishes come out at exactly the right time, even if I'm cooking all day. I've never missed an airplane because I was late. I also check the time a lot. I'm the woman forever looking at my watch, not because I'm impatient or late, but to make sure nothing has slipped on me.

When I can let the time go and just write, or read, or watch the sunset, that's when I'm at my best.

Wacky internal clock and all.


  1. Ah, losing time. Only while writing. Nothing else does the job. And I'm with you. If I'm painfully aware of each passing second, the writing suffers. Am I aware of the passing seconds because I'm in a difficult section of the book? Or am I in a difficult section of the book because I'm aware of each passing second??

  2. Oh, I have sworn on occasion that time is not linear as people claim. It's a slippery beast, and I never have a good handle on it. I have a friend who is much like your David, Jeffe - for something as simple as watching a movie at my house, she would show up at precisely the time casually set. 7 pm, her finger is on my doorbell. How does this happen? I can be early. I can be late. Never right on time. One thing I love about writing is it gives me permission to stop trying to track the minutes and the hours and just be.

  3. That's what I'm wondering, Marcella - or is it even possible to untangle the two?

    I absolutely agree, Kerry! (I'm never right on time either...)

  4. I totally understand all of this. When I'm writing and its flowing unchecked, I just keep writing until I can't squeeze out another word, then I get up, wonder why my back is stiff, check the time and realize I've been sitting transfixed for hours. :-D

  5. What's sick, Linda, is we then give the fist pump and shout Yes!

  6. I'm with you, Jeffe. I stare at the clock at night. I think it has to do with trying to calculate how much more time I have to sleep, and it's entirely counterproductive.

    As nerdy as it sounds, time doesn't mother me so much anymore with writing. I know, roughly, how long it takes me to crank out a certain number of words (figuring in setbacks, trips to the fridge, and cat distractions). I can sorta block it out on a calendar, now. Sorta. As long as I stay off teh intertubes, that is!

  7. I don't have a clock in my bedroom. I'm from a military family so being on time has been conditioned into my brain, as well as being up with the chickens. I can tell you roughly how much time has pasted, but I the only clocks I own is in kitchen microwave and stove.

  8. Teh intertubes cause *all sorts* of trouble! But yes, that's my mind, too, like I need to know how much sleeping time is left...

  9. glitter - I'm so impressed! I naturally get up with the... well, not with the chickens!

  10. I go back and forth with the time thing. When I have the ability to check it, I'm somewhat obsessive about it, particularly if I'm doing something I don't really want to do. (walking a treadmill, for example).

    I've found that losing my watch is always a nice break. After a while I stop turning my wrist over to check and it's rather nice to see that time slows down a bit as a result.

  11. Time slows and speeds - not a universal constant at al1!

  12. And that's the formula to figure the relative speed of subjective time: al1!

  13. Yes, yes, yes! The "art" of losing time. I often view punctuality as a prison guard of creativity. Like a guard, it's useful to ensure you get where you need to be when you need to be there. Like a guard, it won't allow you to dink around and get distracted by what if's and could be's.

    Time says, "Move along. Move along."