Monday, January 11, 2010

Monday Musings

Yay, we made it above freezing! We got all the way up to 34 for a short time on Saturday and then into the 40s on Sunday, and today it's already in the 40s. I know northerners think we southerners are wimps for freaking out about more than 50 straight hours below freezing, but as I have mentioned before, it feels colder here at the same temperatures. In the temperatures we had last week, I've spent time outdoors in Chicago and New York and was more comfortable than I am here when it's in the 40s. Plus, our homes are built to stay cool, not warm. I have really high ceilings, which keeps my home comfortable in the summer, but which makes it impossible to heat. And our heating systems are designed for the depth of winter being generally highs in the 40s and overnight lows around 30 -- not highs in the 20s and overnight lows around 12.

But now we seem to be getting back to normal, so I can shut off the central heat at night and sleep better. While it was so cold I had to leave the heat on so my pipes wouldn't freeze, even though the lowest setting makes the house warmer than I like for sleeping (my ideal sleeping conditions are essentially "in an igloo under a pile of bearskins"). When it's moderately cool in the daytime, I just use portable radiators or the electric blanket to warm up the space where I am instead of heating the whole house (which, as I've said, is impossible).

After I discovered that having CSI NY on at 8 forces me to get out of bed, Spike betrayed me and is pre-empting it for a couple of days. I woke up at 7:55 but couldn't talk myself into getting up yet, so I decided to just think for a while -- and then woke up at 9:20. I need to find an alternative morning program for when the schedule shifts or when they reach the episodes I've already seen. The trick is to have some sort of schedule externally imposed that involves something I want to see. Otherwise, there's not much incentive to get up that I can't talk myself out of.

I'm closing in on the finishing touches on the current project. I have to hand it over on Thursday, so this will be a busy week. Today I have two more chapters to revise, and then I need to re-read the whole thing straight through to make sure it all still makes sense, given how much I've cut. And then I'll give myself a little "retreat" time over the weekend to switch gears before plunging into the next project on Monday.

Although I do want to read more recent books and new books instead of doing so much re-reading, I have decided to return to some books from my teen years. I do my writing in my "library," and when I get stuck, I find myself staring at my bookshelves. I was trying to think of what I read as a teen, and I remembered that junior high and high school were my thriller phase. I loved the World War II spy thrillers and adventure novels of Alastair MacLean, Leon Uris and Jack Higgins. One thing I'm trying to work on in my writing is pacing, and I thought reading thrillers would be good for that, but because I'm a weenie, I'm not a big fan of modern thrillers -- things that hit too close to home. I know how WWII ended, so those aren't too stressful. Even if Our Hero's mission doesn't go well, I know that we'll ultimately win and be okay. I know that pacing requirements in books have changed, but since I'm not trying to write thrillers, maybe older thrillers will have the pacing I would want to apply to my novels.

I'm also curious what I would think about those books now. I saw a thread on a fantasy-related blog about the books we loved as teens and what we might think about them if we re-read them now. I've revisited some of my fantasy favorites out of curiosity or because the series are still being written and I need to refresh myself every so often on the earlier books. But I don't remember the last time I read some of these war books. Maybe I'll do a series of blog posts on my lifetime reading patterns and what I think of these books now.

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