Doing Time

27 Oct

“How do you do time?” an 8th grade boy recently asked me during a writing workshop.

I was working with his class earlier this week in a beautiful corner of the world where time seems to stand still. 

No other student had ever asked me that question, although it’s an important story element often addressed in adult writing workshops.

How do you explain to a child that time is just the way we organize change, and that your perception of time will constantly change as you change and grow and reach milestones . . . and then pass those milestones.

For example:

 What makes me feel YOUNG?

Coasting down a hill on my bike.

Letting my mom make my breakfast 🙂

Realizing my dog and I are the same age in human years.

What makes me feel OLD?

Having no idea what to send in a college care package anymore.

Needing reading glasses to operate my treadmill.

Asking the sales person, who is younger than my youngest, if people still wear belts. 

What makes me feel AGELESS?

Sitting on the porch during a thunderstorm.

Eating popcorn at the movies.

Dancing at a wedding like it’s 1979….

 “Now is the watchword of the wise.”

13 Replies to “Doing Time

  1. Time is a difficult concept for adults to grasp, let alone 8th graders. I always find it interesting how different novels explain the passing of time. Some authors can play with time so effortlessly… I have no idea how they do it.

  2. So true! My best suggestion for learning how to plot the passage of time is to carefully observe how other authors do it (phrases, breaks, hints) and literally keep notes on how the time passes as you read the book.

    That bright student also told me he feels like he has to write about every minute for the reader — that he doesn’t know which details to leave out and when to allow time to pass. Always a huge challenge for adult writers! The space between the lines… remember to leave that space (that leap of faith) for your readers’ imaginations.

  3. So true Beth. Sometimes I feel I haven’t aged at all, and other times I realize how much time has passed. It seems I just started my job, but instead my oldest daughter is new at her job. I do know time is precious and we have to senjoy every minute.

  4. It’s such a difficult reality–the passage of time. and our little place in it. Great post and thanks to the young student who posed the question.

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