Thursday, December 20, 2018

Christmas Time

            Two semi-holiday related posts?  In the same month?  I’ve just totally sold out to the whole capitalist Christmas experience, haven’t I?
            Honestly, I’ve been sick in bed most of the week, so there won’t be much to this.  Lost a lot of time.  I still have a ton of presents to wrap.  And mail...
            Speaking of time, something bounced across my mind a week or three back, and it’s been fermenting over there in the corner for a bit...
            As a little kid, once we hit December, I could tell you almost exactly how long it was until Christmas.  As we got closer, my brother and I would start planning it down to the hour. Sometimes down to the minute.  What time we could wake up.  What time we could expect to wake my parents up (without fear of reprisals).  What time they’d let us come downstairs.  Christmas wasn’t in “a couple of days”—we were two days, fourteen hours, and six minutes away from opening presents.
            (that’s the present Mom let us take to bed with us on Christmas Eve—the bribe to keep us quiet and in our rooms for an hour or so after we woke up)
           Of course, after I got older it did just become “a couple of days” until Christmas.  I met people who didn’t celebrate Christmas and kept an even looser sense of when it was than me.  I even tried to actively avoid it for a while.
            What random point am I trying to make this week?
            How characters think about time says something about them.  It lets me know if they’re precise people or if they tend to speak in generalities.  It even gives me an idea how important events are to them.
            I mean, how long is twenty-four days?  Is it just 24 days?  Or is it  a few weeks?  Maybe three weeks?  Almost four weeks? Practically a month?
            If I told you something happened a couple of weeks, ago does it seem as important as that happened sixteen days, eight hours ago?  Am I looking forward to a party that’s still more than a week away?  Or that dinner that’s in less than four days?
            Y’see, Timmy, people are unique, and we all think about time in different ways.  Sometimes we generalize and estimate.  We round up and down.  We abbreviate one way or another.  And other times we’re very precise.  Maybe we won’t even give an answer until we can give the exact, confirmed answer. 
            And this can all change depending on context.  I might be vague about when I’m meeting friends for drinks, but very specific about when that date with Phoebe is.  I can tell you exactly how long I’ll be at the office, but I might be up playing Fallout until, y’know, later.  Don’t wait up for me.
            So when I’m writing characters, and they’re dealing with time, keep that in mind.
            And speaking of time, I hope you’re looking at a comfortable, stress-free couple of days.  If you’re in LA and happen to still need a last-minute gift or two, Dark Delicacies has some autographed books of mine, if that interests you.  And if not, there are a ton of awesome books at your favorite local bookstore.
            I hope all of you reading this have a fantastic holiday season.  Maybe I’ll see you all one last time before the new year rolls in.
            Have fun.  Try to enjoy a few peaceful days.  And maybe, if you have some time...
            Go write.

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