Our Voices

Photo of Time and Space: A Conundrum

Matthew Kingston on April 13th, 2012 @ 08:50 AM 2 comments
While Friday the 13th is always a fun day, especially when there are three of them in the same year, each 13 weeks apart, I feel like I exhausted my Friday the 13th post a few months back. Which left me with nothing to write. Or, more realistically, an empty coffer of Friday the 13th ideas. Not that I had anxiety or “writer’s block” (which I don’t believe in). I just didn’t have the proper, tiny blob of imagination that I needed to send rolling down the hill, gathering momentum until it exploded across the page.

I sat at my home computer this morning, trying to squeeze out some sort of mass of words on document relating to this most superstitious of days (beware the black cat twining its way around your leg). But I was distracted by the other writing projects I have going. So I bolted for the office, for a reprieve. On the drive in, I realized what I had to write about.

I can write about writing. Or, more specifically, I can write about what I’m writing, about what distracted me this morning when I was trying to write about Friday the 13th.

In my spare time, I’m working on the third draft of my novel, a novel about an immortal time traveler who stitches up tears in the Universe, thus averting catastrophic disaster for the entirety of Time and Space. My main character is Lilly, a formerly mortal, now immortal, time traveler. She and her hummingbird companion travel, with instruction from Janus and his minions, ominously called Temperature.

I started the novel back in the fall of 2009, at the beginning of my second year in an MFA program in New Hampshire. The first draft was done in less than four months, clocking in at something like 250 double-spaced pages. Starting in the fall of 2010, I rewrote the entire thing (okay, 95% of it), and now it sits at 530 double-spaced pages. I’ve been tinkering with the third draft over the past few months, but I hadn’t really sunk my teeth in, as they say.

The problem was the first chapter. I had glossed over the first chapter. It was, in a linear sense, the middle of the story. However, it needed to serve as the beginning of the novel, throw the reader right in. Plus, in a time travel novel, I couldn’t start at the beginning. Where would be the fun in that? Needless to say, I don’t know if I’ll ever write a time travel novel again. I can’t keep track of half the things going on. I have large boards covered with post-it notes, color coded with sharpies, to try and help create some semblance of order. I think it works.

Anyways, about a month ago, I figured out the situation that would start the novel. I just didn’t know how to pull it off. I tried, oh, six or seven times to write the first few pages. Nothing seemed right. I’d start with an interesting idea, be excited about it for two or three pages, and then, bam: I hit a wall. It didn’t move forward anymore.

Then, a breakthrough. Last weekend, I figured it out. I was sitting in the sun on my porch, drinking coffee, listening to the birds, procuring as much outside time as I could, and there it was. I spent Saturday and Sunday mornings getting it started, gathering details, getting it rolling. This week, I’ve been stealing writing time whenever I can at home, and have been successful in figuring out how this beginning works in the context of the novel as a whole. It is delightful. But, it leaves no room for other writing projects. I think about my novel, the characters, the plot, every day. More than every day. Probably six or seven times a day. They’re my friends and family. They’re real, at least in my own, strange, head. I’d tell you all about it, but you’ll have to wait for the novel to come out. If it ever does. Plus, in my own superstitious way (hello, Friday the 13th), I don’t like to talk about ongoing projects, especially when they’re at this fragile stage of creative beginnings. It makes me scared that the idea will dissipate, play out in conversation instead of on the page. Maybe next month, if things settle down.

I could now tie this in as some lesson on perseverance, or some such thing, and how that ties in to personal finances and credit unions and the like. But, by golly, I’m just too excited about my own writing to flush out those connections. I suppose, though, that could be your homework (I was, at one point, a teacher of English 101). You make the connections. You have a month before your papers are due.

And, above all else, have a Happy Friday the 13th.

2 comments

Melina Young on April 13th, 2012 at 09:21 AM

That is awesome, Matt! I am sure you will get it published, and I can't wait to read it and get my signed copy. :) Good luck!

verdant on April 17th, 2012 at 12:30 PM

This is wonderful! I too have an MFA and have "Friends and family" in the drawer and in my file cabinets. Enjoy the process.

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