Thursday, April 26, 2007

Tick...

Still down with migraine, still spending a lot of time in the dark. Today I spent an awful lot of time thinking about time. Time has become a major character in my novel, and the nature it displays is sometimes confusing to me. I've been sorting out why it is behaving as it does within my pages, what it means, how it affects my tale.

It is perhaps not a coincidence that time is behaving strangely in my own life. I have nothing to add to that sentence.

Below is another chunk of first-draft fun from my novel, which touches on some of the time issues I've been thinking and thinking about. I'll still be thinking about this tomorrow.

*****

There is a woman on the train listening to music through a device she has attached by thin wires directly to her ears so as to keep the sounds it produces private and neither annoy nor entertain the other passengers. Baranatalo does not see her.

The musical device is not a common sight on the train in 1986, as it is not a portable device for playing cassette tapes or tuning in radio waves from nearby broadcasters. It is not even designed for the playback of the relatively new compact disc, which stores music digitally, as a series of ones and zeros which through some alchemy are far more accurate at reproducing sounds than the magnetic blips of a cassette tape. Her device is small and sleek and can hold more information than all the computers in Baranatalo’s workplace put together, and yet its sole purpose is the playback of music. It has no other real function. The woman Baranatalo does not see is separated from him by an approximate distance of thirteen feet and twenty years.

There are, of course, millions and millions of people on the train whom Baranatalo cannot see. At every stop, getting on, getting off. They sit over and over again in the same seats, crowd for positioning at the poles which provide leverage and balance for standing passengers. Their hands overlap and pass through one another. There are too many to ever count, and they blur and swim in our vision. Likewise the train itself passes through from time to time, to those who can see these things.

Three young men in crew cuts and horn-rimmed glasses discuss their standing in the involuntary military draft at the back of the car. One expresses a concern that he will not fare well in the government lottery, as his assigned number is considered precariously low. There is a war going on somewhere that he would like to avoid, and he speculates aloud that by becoming a cleric or attending classes at a University, he might avoid the drafting process altogether.

If we focus hard on these men, the woman with the music device vanishes. Harder still, taking in the type on the newspapers in their hands and the styles of their clothing and Baranatalo vanishes, too. We are left with only the thousands of people with similar garb and manner who also blur into one another and through one another on their way to the places of their lives.

*****

The "Endless Hour" contest is closed to new entries, and I'm really looking forward to sifting through the entries tomorrow. There are 59 in total, which is a fair amount more than I got for the GBA(s)FC, but he's been doing this longer and clearly has a much more popular blog.

Click on over and check out the entries. Some of my Blogfriends are over there, in addition to my own entry. I'm not expecting to win anything, but am happy that I entered, and delighted at the positive feedback I've received from the readers over there. My story had generated 18 comments, last time I checked, which is a lot more than the things I write here seem to draw, so it's nice to feel like I'm being read outside of my normal group of Blogreaders.

It's all very encouraging. It makes me want to start getting stories out in the mail and into the hands of editors, the sooner to feel the flip-side and start gathering up my rejection slips. Apparently, three rejection slips is the number the government requires to officially call yourself a writer.

17 comments:

Reading the Signs said...

Lovely bit of writing, Mr. Moon. Intriguing narrator. Engaging.

Migraines do strange things to time, I think. Whenever I emerge from one I feel as though I've been in another dimension - and sometimes, with clearer vision. Though I'f rather not have them at all. Hope it lifts soon.

Minty said...

Excellent writing, Maht (contest-wise, post-wise, novel-wise). I love train scenes in stories...

I'm really sorry about your migraine... Toothaches in your head are bad business...

Hope you are feeling better very, very soon...

Minty said...

Sorry about all of the ellipses; I don't know what my deal is with them lately... (see?)

Liz said...

I've gotten a couple of those rejection letters. I'm glad at least that I got a reply.

You're brave to post parts of your novel. I'm working on mine now and I don't know if I could do it. Don't you worry that someone's going to plagiarize your ideas?

Verilion said...

Wow! I really like this section. It's a bit freaky but it's like a dream I had years ago that I've been trying to write ever since. I really like that image you've created of a kind of overlay of different eras and the focus and disappearing. I too am wondering how it affects your tale as so far the excerpts you have posted have been very realistic, down to the smallest detail and set in the here and now (well 1986). So, I'm very interested to see where you are going.
Hope the migraine goes away soon. Can't really empathise too much there, I've only had one in my whole life and all I can say is I didn't like it and it hurt and it was the only thing in the last few years that has made me close to considering giving up smoking. I took up drinking gallons of water instead!

~*SilverNeurotic*~ said...

I like it a lot, and I had a very interesting, surreal picture in my mind while reading it.

The Moon Topples said...

RTS: The narrator is refusing to behave, so it's nice to hear something positive about that aspect. At some points, the narration seems to require personal pronouns while most of the time it's just content to do its job unobtrusively.

I can't say that the migraine is creating the time flux in the novel. This excerpt was written in February. But perhaps it has caused me to dwell on it a little more than normal these last couple of days.

Minty: I hope you'll buy the book should it get published. Lots of train scenes, I promise. Migraine is finally defeated. Thanks for the good wishes. And don't worry about ellipses...I'm fond of them myself.

Liz: You're ahead of me in that respect. The Clarity of Night contest was my first try at sending something anywhere at all.

I'm not really worried about people stealing my ideas. Ideas aren't protected by copyright, and I don't pretend that mine are terribly original. The writing itself is copyrighted, and that's the crucial thing to me. I have more to say on this, but I think it'll be in a post...

Ver: Glad you like it. It isn't based on your dream, though, so don't get mad at me. I think this section works into the whole just fine, as the "reality" you are talking about is written to be a sort of hyperreality, and the time shifts are given the same detail as the other sections. Or at least I hope they are. First draft, you know?

The Moon Topples said...

SilverN: You snuck in while I was chatting away with the others. I'm glad you like it, and a surreal picture in your head is the most I could hope for. Thanks.

Joni said...

Hey Maht -
I'll keep an eye out now that I know about your blog. Have more contests, okay?

I hopped over here from Clarity. I really liked your submission.

Verilion said...

Wow, this sounds more and more interesting. Really would like to read more. Keep posting.

MrZhisou said...

I like the excerpt, it drew me in slowly and by the end I wanted to know a lot more.

nmj said...

mahty moon, sorry about your migraine that is just horrible for you...after some navigation, i found your story, 'without rose', god, i loved it, i had been a wee bit chilled, wondering what the brothers were up to, and then that lovely, pure ending.

Minx said...

There is a real quality to your writing, Maht. I am enjoying these excerpts. Your story also stands out (for me) on C of N. Your head may be suffering but you are producing some classy stuff!

Canterbury Soul said...

You are gifted in words, Maht. I love your post here and "Without Rose".

Like you, I don't expect to win anything at clarity, but am delighted to be exposed to so many brilliant writings.

Once your contest is up in May, I will take part in it. :)

Caroline said...

Hope you're feeling better honey.
I think you'll fine it is six rejection slips before you can officially call yourself a writer. Sorry. But I read it somewhere.

The Moon Topples said...

All: Sorry for the prolonged absence and the delay in responding to comments.

Joni: Thank you. And if you're looking for another contest, watch this space. The next GBA(s)FC starts incredibly soon.

Ver: I plan to keep posting little bits until I finish the first draft. And thank you.

Mr. Z: Thanks a lot. Nice to see you.

NMJ: Your comment means quite a lot to me. Thank you.

Cant: Thanks, and i look forward to your entry. Yours over at Clarity was a very strange one. I enjoyed it.

Caroline: My source for this is Debi Alper, who I trust implicitly. Perhaps it is six in England, though. That would make sense with the exchange rate.

The Moon Topples said...

"whom"