Altering Perceptions of History & Time

Pocket Watch

Richard Collier, Christopher Reeve’s character in Somewhere in Time, surrounds himself with artifacts from the period in time to which he wants to travel. Touching those items doesn’t just bridge the gap in time – they fill it. Of course, when he finds himself clutching a coin from his own era, he’s hurled forward, back to his own place and time in the present.

My point being, when we have some tangible connection to a moment in history, that moment in time somehow feels closer. Time it seems is all about perception.

When I was a small child, my less favorite day of the year was December 26. On that day, the next Christmas was an entire year away. For a child, a year seems like a very long time. I remember telling my grandmother, “I wish we could magically make the year go by so it could be Christmas again.” She just looked at me, a serious expression on her face, and said, “No you don’t. Someday time will move much too fast, and you won’t want to wish days away.”

That didn’t make sense to me. After all, a year is always a year, how can it possibly speed up? Of course, I eventually understood what she meant. I even wrote a poem about it, which begins, “Grandma told me time would fly. It’s not that I had thought she’d lie. But she didn’t make it truly clear, that our future was this near…”

It is our perception that changes as we age. While Richard Collier needed inanimate objects, like coins and clothing to fill the gap of time, for me, now that I am older, it is about people. If I’ve known a person who lived during a certain era, that moment in time seems less distant. In 1900 my Grandma Hilda was eight years old. When I was a small child, the year 1900 seemed as far away as 1500. Today, 1900 seems much closer for me.

The story told in my new, soon to be released book, Coulson’s Wife, begins in 1900 and ends almost a half a century later, in the mid-1900s, several years before I was born. One thing that struck me was how much the world had changed for women during that time period.

The story told in Coulson’s Wife is not only about the characters’ evolution, but about the world around them. While I once swore I would never write a historical novel, it appears I have. Although from my perspective, it’s recent history. The fact it is recent history, makes the story told (in my opinion) far more dramatic considering the social changes that occurred during the first half of the 20th century, But, I will have to wait to see what the readers think.

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