Monday, December 15, 2008

Weather & Books

Famously, Mark Twain warned against relying on weather to set the tone for a book. He never said anything about the effects of weather on writers. Colorado is in the midst of a bitter cold snap (And why a snap? It's more like a snarl.) so I'm hunkered down with coffee and work. I have said earlier about the need to be quiet to write; now I'm thinking about the need to be warm. Fortunately, my heater is very efficient, I have plenty of fleece and wool, and the coffee is as hot as I want it. I'm thinking now about my sister in Maine, where ice is breaking trees and trees knocking down power lines, and coffee depends on electricity. Or my niece driving an ambulance in all that mess. Cold is okay if you're not homeless or duty bound to go out. I'm neither. Yesterday, the first day of this enforced solitude, I sorted things into file folders, because I have so many writing and editing projects going on that I was beginning to lose track of what needed to happen next. That felt good; so did gleaning story ideas from my journal. As some of you know, I am a faithful (compulsive?) morning pages person, so ideas easily get buried in all that free association. From time to time, I go back and pull phrases, plot lines, titles, and put them in an appropriate folder, and forget about them again. But sooner or later, I open a folder and it's Christmas morning, all color and fresh words.

Four folders sit on the desk right now: edits, poems, Ana (a new and, I hope, recurrent character), and non-fiction. I'm done for the moment with the poems folder, having rescued a few good lines from old pieces that seem too watery or sentimental to save in their original forms. The edits folder has one more piece to be dealt with for The Cafe Review editor's issue; Ana's folder is filling nicely with all sorts of ideas and research for future stories; the non-fiction folder bulges, a collaborative project which I'm not ready to air yet. It too has lots of pages, but not enough, so today, as I watch the trees glitter and wonder how birds and rabbits and squirrels survive out there, I plan to add to that folder. I even have an outline! With a nod to Mr. Clemons (happens also to have been the name of my favorite high-school English teacher), I'll avoid weather in the books, but be grateful for weather that pushes me to stay at my desk and work on the books.

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