Claire King


About Time

Posted on: October 18th, 2015 by Claire - 12 Comments

I was reading this blog post by Bridport shortlisted writer Tracey Upchurch, who talks about the fact that her shortlisted story was the first she had written in two years. It got me thinking about the way time messes with us.


Two years? How does that happen? Sometimes life sweeps us up, and weeks and months and years just slip by without any discernible output. We have day jobs and families, people get sick or need support, or roofs leak or cars break down, or we are going through the process of editing and proofing a novel ready for publication, which eats up all those ‘spare’ hours we could be writing new things. Did it really take me four years to finish my second novel, and WHAT has happened to the 10 months since it sold? This is lubricious, unfathomable time that leaves us feeling a little baffled when we emerge, often years later, and can finally allow ourselves the time to put pen to paper again.*

But then there are the hours and days and weeks that seem to stretch on forever. The days when you’re waiting on news about competition results, or waiting to hear from an agent or a publisher. The dragging, torturous time that comes with an ache in your chest, and invisible filaments that tie you to the letterbox or the inbox or the phone.

And let’s not forget the kind of time that makes itself the focus of everything. The galloping, obtrusive time that happens when you’re on a deadline, or have a rush of words that you can’t get down fast enough. When you have a thousand things to do and they all need doing. When you are conscious of the need to make every every second count. Days when the clock is your master.

Strangest of all, perhaps, is the way these three states can co-exist, so that time can simultaneously drag and gallop, and yet still somehow slip away unnoticed.



I found that this kind of slippery time was affecting my reading too. Was it true I was only reading one book a month? Well yes, because when was my reading time supposed to happen exactly? An exhausted page or two before falling asleep at night. I’ve since instigated a virtual morning commute, where (when I’m at home) I sit for 30 minutes and read — once the kids are at school and the dog walked — as though I were travelling to my desk. Not only do I read more books again, but it also helps me get into the right frame of mind for writing after the rush and clamour of a school morning.


Image: Time Travel Haikus 5-7-5 photo by CityGypsy11 ( Creative Commons)

12 Responses

  1. That virtual morning commute idea is genius. I may steal it.

  2. Poppy says:

    Like others love the virtual commute concept… I usually try and secure at least two short reading slots a day – usually with a cuppa – longer ones when able/time permits… but have to admit that of late it’s slipped and I really need to make time to take that time again… so once the youngest is back in school next week I think I’ll try to take that 30mins virtual-commute every morning. Wish me luck…

  3. Katie Willis says:

    Yes, as everyone else says, the virtual commute concept is an amazing one.
    I can relate to Tracey Upchurch right now. I’m having to take an extended break from writing due to health problems. Time is a strange thing. It’s all over the place for me right now. What I’m trying to do is to play music via headphones, mostly isochronic tones whilst at the same time picturing my characters alive inside my head. This is a plan to keep everyone alive, to help with the health problems and make me feel that I’m still a part of the writing world, and also, by default, the real world.
    It’s a fair plan but it doesn’t always work.
    I guess it’s my own virtual commute.

    • tu says:

      Sorry to hear you’re suffering from health problems. It’s even harder when you’re in pain (I was just looking after other people). Hope you feel better soon.

      • Katie Willis says:

        I actually think it’s probably just as hard to be the one looking after someone who is ill as it is to be the ill person.
        I completely understand how 2 years can pass by with you wondering how and where the time went. I like to think that the experience will shape your writing, make it slightly sharper, or stronger, or that the change in you in those two years will somehow make it onto the page.
        That’s what I hope for.

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