Time Travelling

Time has always fascinated/terrified me. My first memory of being aware of the sands running through the hour glass was the night before I started Grade 3. As I lay in my bed, staring up at my new school dress, I felt a bolt of fear that I might die in the night and never get to be in Grade 3.

I was such a fun kid.

In my last post, Cliffy Young is my Muse, I mentioned the Gretchen Rubin quote, “the days are long but the years are short.” The video is quite dated but the message is there.

I’ve been something of a time traveller for the past couple of weeks. My business is in a state that has always had Daylight Savings time but because we lived over the border in Queensland, we operated on Standard time. The states are just so damn big here in Australia that often what makes sense for the southern capitals has little in common with the needs of the northerners, ditto for those who live in the country compared to the city dwellers. So even though DST would probably be awesome in Brisbane and the South East, they’ll never embrace it because it’s considered too disruptive for those living in the Far North and our West. Fair enough…

So, I have embraced DST. It makes sense. My whole life is here in New South Wales now that I have been exiled for the good of the realm. My husband is stubbornly clinging to Standard time and I think he is missing all the fun. Essentially I get an extra hour in every day because I get up on NSW time! It’s peaceful at 5am!

Time has been bendy since the second wave of Covid hit Sydney in July. I don’t think any of us can believe we are still dealing with this crap after more than 18 months. ‘Dealing with’ is a spectrum. Someone said early on that we’re ‘all in the same boat,’ to which someone else replied something to the effect of, ‘no, some are in a super yacht and others are clinging to a door in the Arctic Ocean…

Add to that the fact that because we aren’t ‘all in the same boat,’ time has a tendency to pass differently depending on how deep the metaphorical water is. I had to stop myself getting impatient with slow replies from people who simply don’t have the time on their hands that I do right now.

Melbourne residents have had the rough end of the pineapple here in Australia. The big cities were always going to struggle to contain outbreaks and Melbournites have certainly had far more to deal with than any of us further north.

Some of us have been spared the worst of it, some have lost their lives, and everywhere in between, people have been ‘dealing with’ this mess for nearly 2 years. Regardless of where we find ourselves, I think we’re all fed up with it to some extent. Wishing it was over and done with so we can just get on with life already. I know I am but then in the last few weeks I’ve had to remind myself that this isn’t the best plan of attack.

It’s easy for me to say, I guess, but we have to enjoy every minute. As the Buddhists say, ‘if you can’t be happy washing the dishes, you can’t be happy.’ This has been the lesson for me over the past few months. Separated from friends and family, my writing group, my usual haunts, I’ve been forced to find new haunts, connect with some new peeps, find ways to keep in touch with my fam and friends.

This isn’t the first time life has picked me up and shuffled me elsewhere. I was adopted as a baby. That’s a huge shift. I was widowed at 22. Massive shift. The life I thought I’d have was no longer available to me. This shift has been far kinder to me, that’s for sure, and already I can feel the gifts this last few months has given me.

All I can control is my response and I choose acceptance and joy.

Time for writers

Wowee! I just finished reading Chuck Palahniuk’s book on writing, Consider This. Now I heartily recommend this book to any writer but if you’re just starting on your writing journey, read it and then put it away for a few years. Get on with writing… then read it again. There is so much gold in this book for writers who have been doing the work for a while.

My writer friend Kellie and many other bibliophiles would have a fit at the way I’ve defaced the book with underlining and notes but I get the feeling Chuck would approve.

Chuck talks about how to use Time in our fiction. In both of my novels I have used time without really being aware of what I was doing. In Hotel Deja Vu, time and time travel feature heavily but I have also used a ‘clock’ to let my readers know when they can expect the action to be wrapped up. At about 1/3 of the way into the book, the tour group arrives in Paris for a 7 day stay at the Hotel Deja Vu. The days then count down to the final Sunday of the tour… and then (SPOILER ALERT) Sunday happens again… because… time travel! But my readers knew that the days were counting down and then the women would go home, leaving the beautiful city behind… or they would decide to stay.

In Alia Henry and the Ghost Writer, there is a ‘clock’ which counts up the pages of Alia’s book, counts down to when she can go home, counts down to the old man’s birthday party.

Now I just have to work out how to impose a similar structure on my current works in progress, especially The Circle of Ashes because at the moment it’s just going on and on! Not good. For Mimi, she has the trial to consider… My new cosy mystery series set in Australia has another old building under renovation… I know, a Jungian psychologist would have much to say on the matter of every story involving an old house! So perhaps the clock will be the main character finally deciding what on earth she’s going to do with the building once she’s finished restoring it to its former glory.

And here’s a song on Time that I absolutely love.


  1. coxwriting

    I am having nightmares thinking of that poor book you have defaced. Maybe you need to put a warning at the start of your blogs to ensure us book loving; never dog-ear the pages; never underline; mark or disrepect the page in anyway kind of readers. Haha.

    On Wed, Oct 13, 2021 at 3:51 PM Christine Betts – WriterPainter wrote:

    > Christine Betts posted: ” Time has always fascinated/terrified me. My > first memory of being aware of the sands running through the hour glass was > the night before I started Grade 3. As I lay in my bed, staring up at my > new school dress, I felt a bolt of fear that I might die in t” >

  2. Gershon Ben-Avraham

    Christine, I am thinking of the unfortunate loss of your husband when you were only twenty-two. There is a wise quote attributed to the late Joseph Campbell: “We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.” You seem to have incorporated this wisdom into your life. What a blessing!

    1. Christine Betts

      Thank you. Hours and hours of therapy and years of meditation helped. People have said in the past that they wouldn’t have survived but you do somehow. And that teaches us that even in the darkest times miracles are possible.

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