I recently wrote a short novella called A Continuum: Tyre and Phoenix. It is a brief look into this couple’s first year of marriage. Time scoots by as they further connect and get to know each other’s ways and habits. Its speed reflects the pace in which people move in 2015.
Trains, buses, cars and planes. Texts, Smartphones, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to name a few social media forms that people use to communicate with others. Everything is quick and it represents the sign of these times. Our lives move in rapid motion as we touch bases with our loved ones in a variety of ways.
Encounters and conversations may be deep and meaningful but we rarely have the opportunity to savor what has transpired or have long periods of reflection. We live on the fly, so to speak, and we modern-day writers often create in that same hurried fashion.
I thought of this as I read Jane Austen’s novel Emma. Her characters in Highbury ease through life in unhurried paces. They walk, take promenades and spend inordinate amounts of time in each other’s company. They have a chance to really study each other and delve into the other’s makeup, disposition and see those character flaws.
Consequently, writers of that era lived in a slow environment and they could sit down and recall small details about what they had either seen or imagined. Their days were long and uneventful. They had the time to develop the people in their stories and tell about their clothing, customs and lifestyles.
I have been reading and reading Emma and I thought it would continue as a long exposition about these townspeople. But about 200 pages in, something happened. The slow movement picked up for me and it finally became a page-turner. I had to see how this tale would end, but by the time I got to this point, I felt as if I knew all of the players quite well. My interest was piqued when people started making unlikely choices as they selected partners.
But for those of us who write in 2015, we have to work as fast-paced scribblers. We must become like the messenger in Macbeth, who brought him news in the heat of the battle. Macbeth said, “Thou com’st to use thy tongue: thy story quickly! (V, iii). Nowadays, we must get the story out quickly as we juggle the other pieces of our lives in this high-tech age!
October 30, 2015