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J.K.Rowling's imaginative response to a very real need.

I’ve often thought that J.K. Rowling’s invention of the Time Turner, (a handy hour-by-hour time travel device),  was inspired by the obvious lack of enough hours in the day.

I could really do with one of those right now (what a shame they were all destroyed). My motives are only marginally selfish: a couple of turns – maybe a few, probably more – to sit uninterrupted at my laptop every day to tackle that seemingly impossible task … writing my *&!!* novel.

Luckily for me – and the previously cursed project – a recent temporal event did occur whereby I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. Such an event is so rare that it carries the whiff of magic.

I can count the number of times when this correlation between time and space has occurred in my life – on two fingers. On both occasions these temporal anomalies have delivered me into the arms of the wonderful SF&F community in Seattle, USA.

The most amazing bunch of people you could hope to meet.

The first was in 2002, when (much to my surprise and joy), I was accepted into the Clarion West Writer’s workshop – six weeks of writing bootcamp. Attending Clarion is very high on my “best things I’ve ever done in my life” list. Since I’m no fragile blossom, I hope to convey the message that those six weeks were not only gruelling but life-changing, as most memorable experiences often are. Oh, and I learnt a lot and made some wonderful friends.

I had such high hopes for my writing career, but life, as I often remind myself, intrudes. In 2003, our new crew member, in the form of an 8lb baby, arrived. I recently reminisced about this phase in my life: “someone pulled a plug from the back of my head and all my brains drained out.”

Back to 2011, and we happen to be visiting our favourite city of Vancouver at just the right time for me to attend another Clarion West event, the one-day novel writing workshop, lead by the very charming Mark Teppo.

The site of a recent distortion in the space-time continuum.

My transporter delivered me to Seattle and into a North-American-Quaint Irish-themed pub, where I time-travelled (back nine years) in the company of three Clarion buddies.

I have come to think that time, like light, can be two things at once: either particle (such as the sand in an hour glass) or folds, (like those of an accordion). I walked through the door, saw my friends and within moments we’d pushed back the boundaries of our temporal world to rediscover the delights of being in the company of like-minded people, (and of course, I drank too much beer and went to my workshop the next morning with a hangover).

So, we come to the second temporal event: the one-day workshop. Of course, in every journey there is a challenge.  Seattle is designed to confuse the alien and after being lost several times I finally came upon a gathering of natives who looked at me in that secret way, as distinctive as Spock’s twitched eyebrow. I relaxed. I was home.

One day is simply not enough, however, connections were made. Mark Teppo did a fantastic job directing the attention of fourteen very disparate brains. How he did this was a combination of serious cool and sleight of hand.

Needless to say, the day went too quickly and I very much wanted a time-turner. Sadly, the boundaries of reality were rebounding and I was pulled back into my linear existence, to face yet another day when I stalked up to my laptop only to slouch away, defeated.

– but today, something had changed. There, in my notebook, some alternate persona had left me a gift: my novel outline, complete with a warning: “this outline will self-destruct mid-way through your writing process.”

 

My thanks to the crew of Clarion West – for everything – and to Mark Teppo for “passing it on”.

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