Thursday, February 08, 2007

What time do you make it?

There’s something really weird about time differences – it’s a bit like living in a parallel universe – actually, living overseas really is like living in a parallel world. I guess that I’m kind of getting used to it, but there are still times when I come over all Star Trek and can’t work out where the UK time is. Though I must be adapting because it was more odd that when I went home to the UK last summer that I couldn’t grasp the fact that husband’s time was in front of mine.

It’s early in the morning here, as I write, and my body is crying out for me to go back to bed. But if I’ve learned anything, it’s not to lie down after sending the children downstairs to the school bus unless I'm willing to capitulate to unconsciousness (I’m often a very willing subject, but I am trying to write...) This morning my bizarre parallel thing has been made worse by the fact that at 6am my Mum phoned. She was mortified because she was trying to send a fax and thought she’d woken me up, I told her ‘we’re up for school, Mum.’ The children were making disapproving noises about why Nanny was still up, when it was so late at home (Desperate Housewives!)

The whole experience of blogging has also made me newly aware of the peculiar notion of time difference. I might miss things: I could be a day late for them – or get this, I could be early. OH MY GOD, I could turn up for a discussion BEFORE it’s happened. How weird is that?

Shortly after I moved to Bangkok, I got an email from my sister saying that our Dad had fallen down some stairs and had cracked his head open. He was being kept in hospital for observation because he takes warfarin to thin the blood but that he was okay apart from resembling Frankenstein’s Monster. He’d fallen in the UK evening, Bangkok nighttime, and for some reason I felt guilty and even angry for having being asleep. It was as though I might have been able to do something about it had I been awake, which of course is nonsense, since I’m 5,000 miles away. I don’t think I’ve explained this very well but is probably to do with the guilt of moving overseas.

I am reading A Writer’s Coach by Jack Hart, and he talks about the idea of whether you are (in your method of writing) a ‘planner’ or a ‘plunger’. He credits this to Roy Peter Clark of the Poynter Institute and Don Fry, a writing coach. I think the names explain the ideas for themselves but it makes me wonder what I am, and whether it explains anything about my stalling process. I wonder if I am actually a planner, but as I’ve always plunged in the past, maybe that’s why I find it difficult to write when I don’t know what order of things I’m writing about… That seems to me to be a problem: if you’re writing your first book, how do you know? If I write articles and columns like a plunger, does that mean I’ll write fiction like one? Or could I need to be a planner because it’s a change in direction? I just don’t know.

Well, I am off for my me time weekend tomorrow morning. I've got my camera charged, my pc ready and even one of those squishy neck cushions for the 3 hour drive. I hope to be at the coffee, if I can work out what time to come!


liz fenwick said...

I know exactly what you mean aboiut the time problem. We have been back in the Uk for two and half years and I think I have finally settled - yes you have it when you return too. On Sunday we are off to retread old steps going back to Dubai where we lived for three will be very strange.

Being a plotter or a pantser is always a big worry. Both work but you need it find your way. I am more pantser than plotter. I mind map out the key ideas and then see what happens as I write because surprises always happen. Jennifer Crusie has a great big about outlines - planning on the workshop He Wrote She Wrote. Worht taking a look at

Have a fabulous weekend away. I miss Asia...we were in Jakarta for a while.

JJ said...

Hi Liz, How long were you overseas for in total? It is weird to have to work out the logic for when you can or can't ring someone or expect a reply to your email. However one of my FAVOURITE things is switching on my pc at the ungodly hour of 5.45am for school and finding emails that people wrote me before they went to bed. It's so delicious.

I'm just having to keep reaffirming to myself that I just need to get the bones of the story down and not worry about perfection (I have huge trouble with this). Tomorrow I go off to my mountains and I don't want to feel horrible, hideous pressure from myself to write perfection. I'd just like to get the story down, and worry about everything else after. It'll probably take longer that way, but until I understand it, I don't see how to make the other creative decisions.

I still intend to be at the coffee tomorrow, so I expect I'll see you there.


liz fenwick said...

JJ, I used to hope and strive for perfection the first write through but on the last book I have learned that each rewrite I learn more and the book becomes stronger. So on the current one I am bashing through knowing that tons of work awaits but the pace should be about right which can be quite tricky - well at least I think so.

See you at the coffee.

Carol and Chris said...

Time differences are insane - at the moment I am struggling to cope with friends and family in the UK and my Dad who is touring America....I can't make head nor tail of it (perhaps I should get different clocks and label them.....but then I'm not going to know if that's three in the morning or three in the afternoon!!).

Good luck with the writing JJ - I hope you find the mountains inspiring.

JJ said...


I think I did make some progress, yes, thanks Carol.

I went and had a look at the workshop Liz, it looks good; one to print out and read at leisure.