Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

This is my absolute favorite time of year, weather-wise. Yesterday we had what would have been a perfect summer day for much of the world. It was pleasantly warm but not miserably hot. The sky was a perfectly clear cobalt blue. While the sun was warm, there was a cool breeze, so I could be warm and cool at the same time (my favorite ambient temperature). When I was walking to the bank, going around the pond across the street, the breeze rippled the water in such a way that the sunlight made the water sparkle. I wouldn't mind living in a place where that was what summer was like, and we'd have three months of it. Today it's more of a lovely early fall day. It was crisp and cool this morning and should be just pleasantly warm this afternoon.

In weather like this, I want to frolic outdoors (though I'm not entirely sure what frolicking actually entails). I almost wish I had my own lawn with trees on it so I could rake leaves (though they aren't yet really turning colors or falling). This isn't the right part of the world for apple orchards, but I want to pick apples and have bonfires and go hiking.

And yet, this is also the time of year when I'm usually working the hardest. Most of my books have been written in October. Every year when I'm plugging away, I swear that next year I'll take that time off and really enjoy myself, and yet there I go again, and it's not always dictated by publisher deadlines. I just feel more creative at this time of year. Yeah, I want to frolic outdoors, but I'm also bursting with creative energy, and if I weren't writing, I'd be baking like a madwoman or sewing or knitting or something like that, so I may as well do some work that could potentially earn me some money. I suppose I could dial back on the obsession and spend a little less time writing and give myself more "fun" time during the day, but then I could also plow through the first draft now and then take real time off while I let it rest, and it will be equally lovely in late October. I suppose I may let the conditions of each actual day dictate what I do. I'm not on deadline, so if it's a perfect day for walking over to the river and spending the day outside, then I can do that (and take a notebook for brainstorming). If it gets rainy, then that's perfect writing weather and I can do a marathon.

Speaking of the writing, the answer to my sexual tension dilemma was right there in my rant. All I had to do was have my guy stay focused on the metaphorical Grandma situation in the book (no actual grandmas are in peril in this book. So far.). If he's thinking of the crisis even as he assesses the woman, then it's less likely to come across as pre-romantic. So, he meets the woman, sums her up, analyzes whether she'll be a help or hindrance in the Grandma situation, ponders whether her odd behavior could mean she's a suspect in the Grandma situation, and even if he mentally assesses her physical appearance it doesn't sound like the bad romantic suspense thing where he should be focused on the crisis but he's too busy staring at her boobs.

Today's challenge is getting into the head of my main character. I'm doing something a little unusual in this book by backing into the main character. First, other people talk about her and we see how they react to the idea of her, which sets up one set of expectations. Then we actually meet her through someone else's point of view, and what we initially see there isn't at all like what we were expecting based on the way they were talking about her earlier, but then we start to get tiny signs that maybe there is something to her reputation. And then we finally get into her head around page 40 of the manuscript and start seeing how accurate any of those impressions are -- and that she actually carefully cultivates some of those impressions. It's another tricky balance to maintain a bit of a mystery about her even while going into her head while also showing some of the more intriguing parts of what goes on behind the curtain. I may have to do some writing exercises like doing some things in first person, even though this book is written in third person, and that gives me an excuse to go outside.

I haven't yet worked out a way to really write outdoors. There's a bit much glare on the laptop screen, even in the afternoon when the patio is in the shade and with the patio umbrella up, and the patio table is at the wrong height for comfortable typing. I should probably pick up one of those portable, adjustable laptop desks at Ikea. In the meantime, I can enjoy the weather while getting work done when I need to do pen-and-paper brainstorming. Today should be a good working day, since I have no errands to do and no other business to take care of.

No comments: