Category Archives: time travel problems

Here We Go Through the Newtonian Time Telescope™!

I know–many of you will now be angry with me because my title sucked you in and subsequently failed to deliver the goods (or will fail to deliver, as we shall see). My brain is in a dither. If I could possibly explain my failure at actually producing my Time Telescope technology as I outlined in an earlier proposal, would you forgive me? Would you buy my excuses? I have one after another: illness, children, Christmas, Christmas trees, driving in the mountains where there’s snow, too many hot drinks with brandy or rum, and too much generalized merry-making to want to bend time through the spherical mirror inside my scope.

That leaves me with more confessions to make. Although I envisioned the brand name Newtonian Time Telescope™ and even found the name to ring poetically in my ears, while the ampersand and semicolon necessary for cute html insignia sent pleasure signals to the dopamine-producing regions of my brain, the truth is I can’t imagine how one could time-travel through a telescope. Presumably, one would have to move faster than the speed of light in order to travel through time. Yet, a telescope simply collects light and, in the case of the Newtonian telescope, reflects this light to the eyepiece using its secondary mirror. This leaves me with a bewildering sense of 17 C steam-punk, in which impossible technology is rendered possible using steam power to produce some kind of Galilean kinematic system. But wouldn’t the steam fog up the mirrors?

So, although I would like to pretend I’ve been hiding away in my basement hammering out this time telescope, my final confession is this: I have no basement, not even a crawl space. I have no place to hide away from the world. I’ve long considered moving to a cave I know of, but the musky smell of wild animals inside it puts me off a little. When Virginia Woolf wrote in her ridiculously long sentences about a woman needing a room of her own in order to accomplish awesome feats of intellectual stupendousness, she failed to mention the part about houses with missing basements or the fact that caves often come furnished with wild animals. Where did she think a woman was to obtain this “Room of One’s Own”? And, then after finding such a place, did Ms. Woolf perceive that a woman might do nothing more intellectually stimulating than stare at the wall in the silent room reserved for her little lone self?

Back to the Newtonian Time Telescope™ and my proposal to the Royal Society of None, I have to admit that my excitement over the idea was perhaps slightly premature. I thought that earlier today, anyway. I thought, what have you gotten yourself into now, Jill? Why did you want to force Newtonian physics into encompassing this sort of nonsense? I don’t know. I can’t make sense of the world; that’s why. And when I write about it, I realize the words are just phonemes that represent stuff like time machines. They’re not real. They’re not really real.


Writing Sucks

How’s that for a juvenile sounding blog title?

Let me tell you about my weekend. By some weird quirk of fate (either that or a weird husband–you choose), I ended up with Memorial Day weekend all to myself. Yes!! Yes, yes yes!!! On Friday evening, my family hugged and kissed me and exited their boring desert world for a weekend in the Big City. I hunkered down in my desert house for a weekend of writing.

Saturday was great. I had very nearly rewritten the first half of one of my WIPs, so I plunged in and edited the new work, and then finished off the chapter I had previously left undone. I was prepped to breeze through the second half of the book the next day–because the second half of the book was obviously splendid and didn’t need to be rewritten.

Sunday began slowly because I decided to attend church simply so I could partake in the Lord’s Supper. So by the time I arrived home and watered my plants and fixed a pot of coffee, it was already 10 a.m. No biggie, I thought. The second half of the book was going to be a breeze.

As soon as I began editing, I knew I was mistaken. The second half sucked. Really sucked. It was not brilliant. It was not splendid and in need of minor line-editing. Every chapter needed an overhaul. Every last one. Except maybe the epilogue–all two pages of it.

I sucked it up. I took a deep breath and made notes on how I needed to change each chapter. Then the phone rang, and seeing as how it was a writing friend, I allowed him to encourage me with words like these: “Don’t worry, Jill. Even if you never make money off your writing in this lifetime, you have a reward waiting for you in heaven.” Damn good thing I was talking to a phone and not a person because my writing friend might have gotten a smack. No, that’s not true. I don’t smack people. Ever.

I wheedled my way off the phone and started again with gusto. And then the old questions of time travel arose. In the second half of this WIP, my protagonist time travels. In early versions of the book, I debated how far in the past to set the pre-time-travel scenes and had most recently decided she could follow my own age progression, which was a horrendous mistake because that meant the latter half of my book would be set in the year 2022.

I’m not a sci fi writer. I don’t go about predicting near future technology–that’s way more work than I want for my humble story. So I had to go back to the first half and date it in the year 1995 (which was my original date, anyway!!) and change all the technology references. 1995 is perfect (so why did I ever change it?) because the internet was happening; it was just a little different. No Google, for example. And cell phones? Yep, people used them, but they didn’t take pictures with them. But they gabbed on them–oh, yes, I remember it very well from working in customer service in the 90s (“May I help you?” I ask. Woman on phone holds up her finger and whispers, “Just a second,” and continues to talk on phone while long line forms behind her, and I stand at the counter waiting and sighing.)

Now, my protagonist has time-traveled to the year 2014, which is doable for me. I can deal with 2014, unless the apocalypse occurs before then, in which case none of this will matter, anyway.

What’s my conclusion after today? Well, writing sucks. Not to mention, I am a TERRIBLE writer. I’m the worst writer EVER. Can’t you tell by all my fragmented thoughts? Can’t you tell by the way my brain has cracked?

I’m going to make another pass at this. I have this evening and tomorrow left at my disposal. Because writers, especially terrible ones, never know when to quit.