by Janis Patterson
One of the most unsettling things about being a writer is what I call ‘time dislocation.’ There is the Now that we are all experiencing – the date printed on today’s calendar, the time shown on all our clock faces. We writers, however, must deal with the Now of our work, which very seldom if ever coincides with real time. For those of us who work on several projects at once – some contemporary, some historical – the dislocation can be severe.
And sometimes the dislocation lapses over into the real Now. As I sit here writing this, I’m preparing for a trip and when you read this I will be in Germany with The Husband, touring the magical Christmas markets of Bavaria. The year he was stationed over there I went over to spend Christmas with him, through weather and scheduling and just plain bad luck I missed seeing any of the markets. He, of course, had been to several and promised me he would take me to some – sometime. It took a couple of years, but on Friday (almost two weeks ago to you) we’re off.
Which brings up another kind of dislocation – weather. It’s cold in Germany, very cold for my Southern bones, especially when we’re going to be walking around outside every night. (Though there is the Gluhwein (hot mulled wine) to look forward to!) I live in North Central Texas… I don’t have many cold weather outfits! Yes, it does get cold here – we do have noteworthy ice storms, but they usually last only a day or two, and we just stay inside until they’re over! I’ve been packing and unpacking and repacking, trying to decide what will (1) be warm enough and (2) will not require a couple of steamer trunks. There is consolation, though; we are not journeying to Ultima Thule… whatever my final wardrobe choices lack can easily be remedied with a quick pass through a local store.
Even with all the preparatory kerfuffle I am looking forward to the trip for two reasons. First of all, I’m going on a very romantic trip with a man I adore. That should be enough – and would be – but secondly I am also a very firm believer that everything can be turned to research. I’ve been thinking about the second book in my Dr. Rachel Petrie series of archaeological mysteries, and Germany is rich in archaeological sites. We’ll be doing the tourist thing during the day, so I’m going to take LOTS of notes.
Which brings up a problem. I learned to type the summer before I entered the fourth grade, so have always regarded anything more than a signature on a check as cruel and unusual punishment. And this is the first time in thirty odd years that I have ever taken more than an overnight visit anywhere without bringing along a typewriter or a computer. We’re going to be moving light and fast on this trip, and hoping to bring home a lot of goodies, so The Husband convinced me that this trip I wouldn’t have luggage space for a computer or tablet… or even time to use them. I have agreed not to take anything more than a purse-sized notebook and a pen or two… but I feel naked.
However… as I have been known to say repeatedly, Writers Write. We write the best way we can, and if that means a pad and pen, that will have to do. It’s a lot easier than trying to remember exactly when Now is! Any of them.
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!