The Element of Time (and God)

Recently, I bumped into author Jon Winokur—online, that is, where everyone meets. I recognized his name from the first communication, as I have one of his earliest books, The Portable Curmudgeon.

The email said that he gave this site a thumbs-up mention on his blog, and so I sent a thank you. Using Twitter, I spotted this on his bio line: Jon Winokur is the author of numerous compendiums and online adventures, and “has been in a bad mood since 1971.”

Geez, is that all?

ME: Thanks for the mention. But just to tell you, I’ve been in a bad mood since about six months of age.

WINOKUR: Trying to top me, eh? Well I’VE been in a bad mood since I was an embryo!

And off it went at a stiff clip, a dozen exchanges, straight back through time.

Next, it was the Garden of Good and Evil, then string theory, and after that the Big Bang. When I pressed for details, he claimed to have been at the conference table where such things were decided. In fact, his bad mood even preceded this, he insisted, as it was he who had called the meeting.

Selah, take that.

Heck, he even went to high school with God. Heck, I AM GOD, he claimed, the capital letters a nice touch.

It was a 140-character game of one-upmanship—but it got me to thinking about how a writer uses time.

Time is an element, as much as tone, or voice, and all the rest. Whether 300 or 30,000 words, where does the writer start, and in which direction will he head?

Winokur began with today and unwound things to the beginning—to God, the ultimate purported cause of everything.

Now, Winokur isn’t God, of course, but he is a writer, and that means he gets to decide. It’s up to him to determine when he will reach into his toolbox, pull out his mighty clock, and put it work.

Check out: Jon Winokur on Twitter @AdviceToWriters and