I think of narration, or the narrative that tries to encounter the real, as that which is negotiating between two orders of time: clock time and chaos. I must say the more I think about it, the more I think writing is about time. The writer is playing –when structuring narrative or when narrative is structuring itself- with life and death. He or she is manoeuvring between order and disorder, between meaning and meaninglessness, and so is making literature [...] However, these movements between clock time and chaos in written narrative are more complex. To begin, consider one aspect of time in the novel: the time it takes to write a novel. A novel’s a big thing. It usually takes at least a year, often many years. During that time the writer’s life changes. So there’s the time of all the actual changes the writer is going through –the time it takes to write the novel [...] It takes time to read a novel. A novel is very rarely something you read in one sitting. So, that time incorporates all the reader’s memories, all the interstices, the time lapses between readings, all the returns to earlier parts of the novel, etc. Finally: the fictive time. The time within the story or the narration. So in this sense a novel, structurally, is a time triad.
( @In Extremis, Writing at the Century's End, San Francisco, CA. 04/29/93 )