A Writer's View of Time
My mother is turning 93 years old. I was born when she was only 25, some 7 years after her marriage to my father. Some 67 years later I look backwards and realize that all of those years seems like a few blinks of one's eyes.
My father died when he was only 84 years old. I was 18 years younger then, but as I look backwards, the years since his passing seem much fewer than they actually are. His 84 years also appear to be a mere flash of light.
Recently my mother asked her children, to come look at all of her photo's and to take what we might want. She is preparing to take the journey that we must all take, unless the Lord returns and changes us all in "the twinkling of an eye". As I walked through the memories captured by those photo's I saw many of my relatives that have already stepped out of this world's time, and wait the restoration where as the hymn writer said, "when we've been there, 10,000 years bright shining as the Son, We have no less days to praise His Name, than when we first begun." What a simple but incredibly effective way to speak of eternity versus our current experience of time. But those pictures captured for me events in each of those relatives time line. Even the pictures of the much younger me, are a chiseling of a second in time, displayed for me to remember.
When I read the Bible, I see whole people's lives summed up in several key events that marked their passage through their own appointed time. For many, perhaps only one event is mentioned for others maybe a dozen or more. Yet, even for Jesus only three years of his life was the main focal point, with only a glimpse of his birth and early years before Joseph returns from Egypt and settles in Nazareth. And then there is the brief glimpse of him as a young teenager, going to the temple and staying behind in "His father's house", while Mary and Joseph assume he is with each other or other relatives and neighbors that had accompanied them to Jerusalem. For most of his first 30 years of life, little is seen or heard, except for his submission to his earthly parents. John, the apostle and writer of one of the gospels writes, that of Jesus life's activities were fully examined and written upon, there would not be enough books in the world to cover it all. What an interesting way to explain the significance of those brief 33 years of time.
Time for me as a writer is an incredibly important part of the creation of the stories. Most of my stories take place in particular times, with firm borders established by the years being covered. The characters age, and mature during the stories. Truly effective writes, like JR Tolkien and CS Lewis, age their characters in and through their experience of their lives.
CS Lewis in his science trilogy (Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength), as well as in his children's books "The Chronicles of Narnia" does an exceptional presentation of the experience of time in his characters. JR Tolkien in both the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy also displays an incredible grasp of the importance of time. I was especially touched by Tolkien appendix in the final book, where he tells the story of the rest of the history of the characters that were a part of the "Fellowship of the Ring", after the conclusion of the main story. I have marveled at his ability to truly bring the story to a close, with the display of the closing events in each of the characters time in their world of middle earth.
So for me as a writer, time is one of the key ingredients I am always mindful of. I use often the technique of looking backwards in memory at events that shaped the characters current actions. I believe that past experiences in time, often help mold who we are today, but not necessarily define us, unless we allow those experiences to. So if you are a writer, check out your use of time and how the story develops through time. It could become a key part of your creative vehicle, as it is a common experience for all of us that you can connect with. I close with one of my favorite lines paraphrased from the bible: Lord, help us to number our days/time correctly.
I look forward to talking with you more shortly. Please do follow me at charlesadeandrade.com, or at scribblersweb.com where interviews, other stories, and upcoming events and my books are found. Feel free to drop me a note as well there, and I will be happy to communicate with you.
Until the next time...
Grace and Peace,
Charles de Andrade