Reading the Four Quartets is like reading Proust on an empty stomach, but even so, I love the poem. Yesterday I listened to the voice of Audrey Niffeneger in between the lines of The Time Traveler’s Wife, and was reminded of Eliot and Proust, especially when I read her phrase, “the duplicity of the Now.”
Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future
And time future contained in time past. ”
(Four Quartets, “Burnt Norton,” T.S. Eliot)
Time is fleeting even as it is feckless. In memory, Past slips into Now—and vice versa—faster than Proust’s madelaine dips into tea, and the past in the garb of memory is gone before I can grasp meaning.
It’s necessary to have daily word goals, but the process of writing is much more than that. For me, giving room to the subconscious is a necessary part, impossible to quantify. When walking the dog or feeding the cat or scratching the pen across blank pages, I rely on my subconscious to understand my characters and to arrive at plot. In the words of Eliot, written I can’t remember where, “I am here or there or elsewhere,” lost to my surroundings and in a time beyond time.
Today I’m in the skin of my protagonist grappling with the villain, prodding my characters to come up with the bones of story. You?
Photo: Sunset in Scilla. Credit: Fortu Tato (Flickr), Creative Commons