Time to kill: N M Browne
I am having problems with time. For a start, I can’t believe it is blog time again. Nothing says ‘wasted month’ quite like a blog date inattempts at setting a deadline, I am learning, like Douglas Adams, to enjoy the sound of them rushing past. I am in the mid book doldrums and time is not my friend.
In the book, I fear (as I always do) that nothing happens for far too long and then when it does happen, it is all over too quickly like bad sex or, as I write more battles than sex scenes, a battle where you don’t ever get quite enough bang for your buck.
My character is on one of these endless quest type journeys in which time should be of the essence, but he is taking so long to get anywhere that he and I are both worn out. It’s a bit better today as I’ve had him fighting for his life. Again. But I am running out of horrible things to do to him and I’m barely halfway through.
Then, I have the problem of determining how long all this story stuff actually takes in the sixth century, besides ‘far too long.’ Is it reasonable that a boat should take four days to sail and row from the Thames to Pevensey? Who knows? The answer would seem to be no one. And how long does it take to kill a sheep and spit roast it? Do you need to let it hang for a bit or can it be fast food for a feast? Again, who to ask? And what about portion sizes? Were sheep bigger and appetites smaller or am I going to have to roast six of them?
I am so tired of talking ‘moments’ and ‘heart beats’ and ‘instants’ and ‘watches,’ ‘movements of the sun’ and ‘phases of the moon.’ I miss the usefulness of minutes and hours, the sharp decisiveness of ‘five minutes later.’ Story telling needs time, enough for the story to unfold, but also its measured urgency to keep things rolling along. I am becalmed in the slower pace of the sixth century, losing my patience and, if you must know, my mind.
In life too, writing middles seems to take so much longer than writing beginnings. In fairness, there is much more middle than beginning, but I feel I have been up to my knees in the soggy middle for much longer than usual. Several moons and sunsets and a helluva lot of heart beats, not to mentions sips of wine and coffee spoons.
Yet, my character is still trudging on, fighting for his life and, for the moment, winning, and I too am trudging with him, one painful paragraph at a time.