I love Mr. McManus’s short stories and humorous essays and this quote sums up my frustrations with the month beautifully.
I will be blunt–March is my least favorite month. Occurring in both winter and spring, it comes out as a poor imitation of both, ending up as month with no real identity. February is irritating, but at least it has the decency to confine itself to 28 days in most years. March has no mercy, stretching out the misery to a full 31 days.
The events and holidays during March have never greatly appealed to me as a writer, but maybe I can provide you with some literary inspiration. Or maybe writing this post will spark something in my own writing.
Lent — Part of Lent is always in March. I find the introspection during this time depressing, but I try to make it an uplifting experience by giving up worry. I could write a story about a character doing the same thing. Because of Lent’s emphasis on sin, I think it’s a perfect time for a mystery, one about laying bare old crimes the most suitable.
Daylight Saving Time — Check out my post last year on this day. It has great potential for speculative fiction.
March Madness — I am not a sports fan. But for those of you who are, the basketball tournament, with all its drama, could mirror the character arc of a player, a coach, or even a parent of a player.
St. Patrick’s Day — Teachers and librarians are always on the hunt for new children’s books associated with this holiday. I like the setting of ancient Ireland, and a friend of mine, Cindy Thomson, had written two novels during this time period, Brigid of Ireland and Pages of Ireland, and is working on a third.
Holy Week — This occurs in the last week of the month. It is such an important time in the Christian calendar and contains so much meaning, that it deserves its own post, which I will write during that week.
Do you like March? How would you use it as a setting?
Daylight Saving Time
When I wrote about March as setting for stories, I forgot that Daylight Saving Time (yes, “saving” doesn’t have an “s”) occurs in this month.
The most memorable thing to me about the time change is to make sure I get to church on time the next day. When my kids were babies and toddlers, it also meant a lot of work as I got them back on their schedules.
I have often wondered if I could use the time change as a key component in a mystery. One author did. A short story from 1933, “No Man’s Hour”, written by Laurence Kirk and collected in The Third Omnibus of Crime, has a murderer trying to use the time change as an alibi but gets the times mixed up and is caught.
Before 2006, Indiana did not observe Daylight Saving Time. Around 2000, my husband lived in Indiana and worked in Michigan. Both were in the Eastern Time Zone but Daylight Saving Time meant an hour’s difference when my husband crossed the state line. At that time, Gary, Indiana, set its time by Chicago, which is in the Central Time Zone. In the summer Gary would be two hours ahead of the rest of Indiana. I know there’s an alibi in this mess somewhere but I’ll need a spreadsheet to figure it out.
For writers of speculative fiction, I think the time change is a possible trove of ideas. What if people could bank the hour that is skipped in the spring, instead of using it in the fall? A person could withdraw an hour or more whenever he needed it. Robbers could specialize in breaking into time banks and selling hours on the black market.
Or what if during the skipped hour, people could time travel, anywhere they want but they would have to get back to their “home” time before the hour was up or be trapped for a year in that other time? Historians would be out of jobs because all the time traveling would keep changing history.
What are your ideas for using Daylight Saving Time as a story component?
Writing in Time-March
Since I wrote about how you could use February to inspire a setting for your writing, I thought I would write about each month as it comes up. But I have a problem.
I hate March. As Patrick F. McManus writes, “God created March in case eternity should prove to brief.”
It’s a month with a split personality. Caught between winter and spring, it’s both and neither. There are no decent holidays or events for me in March. I’m not Irish, or live in Ireland, so St. Patrick’s Day doesn’t mean anything more to me that cute crafts from my kids. I’m not interested in basketball, so March Madness is boring. Lent is always partially in March. It can be a time of growth or depression, the religious observance underlining March’s contrary dual nature. Whoever came up with the lion-lamb imagery for March hit it dead on.
Easter in March would help, but it’s in April this year. And a March Easter runs the risk of being snowy where I live. Snow on Easter puts me more in the mood for caroling and wrapping gifts than hunting Easter eggs and celebrating renewal and redemption. March does have the spring equinox. If the darkness of winter depresses you, then the equinox signals the return of longer daylight.
So, what can a writer do with March?
I admit I hate March so much I have never set a story in it. But writing this blog has given me a few ideas. I could create a character torn between opposites — within his or her own personality, between two jobs or two friends, anything where the character must make a choice between two opposing things. If I wrote fantasy, I could use the spring equinox as some kind of magical day when two opposing forces clash with equal strength. Or I could write a storyline about a character’s miserable misadventures during a miserable month.
Do you like March? Le me know why and how you would use it in your writing.