Friday, February 5, 2010

More on Time - or rather the lack of it

Indeed, I'm still pondering time.
Although really, in this post I'll be discussing a peculiar lack of it.
No, not that I lack the kind of time that I want to devote to writing, (tho' that is true).
Nope, in this little post, I'll be considering a curious lack of the actual word "Time" in my novel.

To try to create a distinctive voice for my main character, (remember she's a bear, no a girl, no a beargirl,) I've played a little trick on myself. I figured that animals in general, and bears in particular, don't have the same understanding of time that humans do. To help myself try to write like a bear, well, like a half-girl, half-bear, I gave myself some taboo words. Words that Beryl will not use. Ever.

Time.
Day.
Month.
Year...

Yesterday becomes Yestersun.
"I'm twelve years old" becomes "I'm in my thirteenth seasoncircle"

I'm constantly catching myself using the taboo words. Especially time. I use it all the time. (See). And sometimes (ha!) it's really hard to figure out another way to say what I want to say, without that little word, time. And certainly just as often, I don't catch myself, because I can't seem to fully embody my characters. That's where editing comes in--and thank the stars and the moon (as Beryl would say) that there's this nifty thing called a word search.

But for all the trouble this rule has given me, in the end, it's been a helpful structure to impose on myself, kind of like a boundary within which I can sculpt a fuller character. It's the empty void that's the necessary compliment to the stuff of life. The lack that allows for a presence. Just not being able to use a half dozen or so words has shaped the metaphors Beryl uses, her insights into the quirkiness of us full-humans, and by all means, what she says when she gets really angry.

And, oh my dirt clod, has it been fun figuring out how a preteen beargirl would swear.

3 comments:

MarkoftheBeast said...

One of the things I like best about your writing is the "voice" Beryl has. I think this is definitely because you have really made an effort to see her world through her eyes and reflect it in things like the words she uses (or doesn't). Nice post!
Mark

Jon said...

I've always been really impressed with the way you glide around those kind of things. The fact that there's rarely any confusion over what she is talking about and yet, the fact that it all clearly comes from an alien point of view is really good.

Qlaudie said...

Love it! Her and the One Potato's bear-like and tuber-like idioms are some of my favorite things about the book.