Thursday, November 21, 2013

ART OF TIME IN MEMOIR

There is a book titled "The Art of Time in Memoir" by Sven Birkerts. In this book he takes several published memoirs and discusses how the writers pull together events in a period of time in their lives and create a rich tale from which we can learn about life.

In writing memoir time stands out as a scaffold for the narrative scenes. The writer must choose the time period she wishes to portray in the book. She must give the reader a sense of the time in history during which these scenes play out. And the pacing of the tale requires a sense of time from the eye of the reader who will either enjoy a nicely paced narrative or feel bogged down with a slow moving story. the writer needs a sense of when to speed the pace to keep the reader reading, and when to slow it down within a scene to create a deeper impact.

That said, this is not the concept of time I wish to rant about today.

When I speak of time in memoir I am talking about the time a writer needs in order to craft a readable, publishable memoir. the memoirist needs time to distance herself from traumatic events in order to process them. The writer needs time to stew the events so that she isn't just complaining on the page, but also examining the lessons learned. And of course the writer needs time to actually sit at a desk with a notebook or computer and do the writing.

I find scheduling time to write is necessary yet difficult. If I plan to write in the morning before work I have about 20 minutes I can fit in. That means about 3 pages, which means I need to know exactly what I want to write so I can get to it without having to think or plan. if I want to write at night it means getting home in time to do my workout, eat dinner, shower and get to my writing desk. That only works when I don't get caught late at work or caught in traffic. It also requires I be fairly awake. That's a challenge considering I wake up at 4:30 am.

Time to write is a struggle, and using it as an excuse not to write is unacceptable, but I have to get past it. I have to find the time to write this book, because it's about time it got written. It's about time I faced that particular musical score of my life.