Tag: seasons


Seasonal Inspiration

 I tend to set my stories with the backdrop of the season that I am in. Part of the reason is laziness. It’s easier for me to think of ways to describe the way a place looks in a particular season when I am surrounded by that season.  Fortunately, I tend to write most of my drafts in the summer and winter (editing in spring and fall). The two seasons are the best for thrillers, IMHO.  Why? Winter enables me to write characters under the inherent pressure of being stuck indoors. I can use that sense of being trapped to create tension. It also enables me to write about being cold, the symptoms of which evoke fear.  Summer let’s me write about characters struggling with heat. When you’re too hot you can feel angry, upset, frustrated. The need for hydration and relief can become overwhelming. Maybe I prefer these two seasons simply because my favorites are fall and spring. I guess I can see how the metaphors of death and renewal could come out in autumnal books. Spring is too full of life for me, but could make a cool contrast if the character is stuck inside despite the beauty outdoors. Missing out.  What is your favorite season to write about?  

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The Small Pleasures of Coziness

As the days get shorter, I feel the irresistible draw to everything cozy. Last year, book lists were dominated by anything about the Danish practice of hygge. Since I speak no Danish and have never lived in Denmark, I can, of course, speak with great authority on the topic because I read Helen Russell’s The Year of Living Danishly. The take away, for those of you who haven’t read the book, is that because the Danes face long, dark and cold winters, they buy more candles than any other nationality on earth and they have raised the art of coziness to a high art form. As I write this in my little attic writing room in upstate New York, I am staring at trees that have mostly shed their leaves. It’s raining hard enough for me to hear the constant drumbeat of raindrops on the roof. The leaves on the ground are soggy. Drops of water cling to the window panes. In short, this is perfect weather to snuggle in soft, warm clothes and drink something warm. I’m already thinking of baking cookies this afternoon.  I have never lived any place without seasons. I was born in Scotland, then moved to northern Utah. My family moved to France, just across the border from Geneva, then to Germany, just across the border from Luxembourg. then it was back to Utah. I went to college in Boston, spent a year studying in Leningrad/St. Petersburg and then headed to graduate and law school in Philadelphia. Almost twenty years ago, my husband and I settled in New York City. Of course, I see the appeal of constant sunshine. My brother and his family recently moved from Brooklyn to L.A. On one of our almost-daily calls he teased me about how that morning there were these strange white and gray masses in the sky, some of them even obscured the sun for a moment. I can’t quite imagine what it would be like to live somewhere with perpetual warm sunshine. I love to be outdoors, and I love the sun. I think it must be nice where it’s always sunny. I especially think that on those brutally cold March days in New York City when the snow has melted and refrozen into dirty, icy, gray hills on every street corner. At some point, inevitably, a car will drive into a puddle of slushy black water leaving you wet, shivering and drenched in who-knows-what. Charming, no? That does not happen to anyone in L.A. Not ever.  But, in the spirit of believing there’s bright side to everything, do cookies baking in the oven smell as wonderful when it’s sunny and warm outside as they do when it’s sleeting and cold? Please let me know. Remember, I’ve never lived in a land of eternally good weather. I’m extremely curious what it’s like. In the meantime, I’ll have a warm chocolate chip cookie .   

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Seasonal Writing

I wrapped my favorite gray cashmere scarf around my neck this week. Sure, the autumnal equinox may technically have occurred on September 21st, but depending on where you live, the seasons do (or do not) change in their own time. I live where sweaters replace light cotton tops. Robust Cabernet takes the place of crisp Sancerre. For me, there’s something about the seasons that makes a difference in my approach to work. Cool falls in New York and our (sometimes) frigid winters provide plenty of excuses to stay inside, curled up next to a roaring fire reading and writing. Cooler weather makes me want to spend more time dreaming up murders. I wonder, though, do others feel that same seasonal affective writing syndrome? So, I asked my fellow Miss Demeanors whether changes in the seasons influence how and what they write. This is what they had to say: Paula: I’m not sure if what I’m writing changes with the seasons, but certainly my output changes with the seasons. I write best when it’s raining or snowing or otherwise inclement. I love winter. As long as I have heat and wifi and Earl Grey tea, I’m good. I’m off and writing until Spring! Robin: Definitely. I look forward to winters as a block of time to make serious headway on my writing projects because that time of year takes away the lure/distraction of playing outside during nice weather. Less daylight mean less temptation to hike or bike ride after dinner. Rainy weekends mean extra hours of writing time. Last winter was particularly wet and I hammered out a first draft in 6 weeks. I’m finishing up a new first draft right now so this winter I’ll be revising. I’m hoping for a decent rainy season. Cate: I do most of my writing in the fall and winter. The summer encourages me to get out and talk about the books, as well as do the things that I derive inspiration from. Susan: I get most of my work done during the summer. I don’t need to worry about teaching and a lot of the church stuff I do shuts down and so I can write and then walk in the woods and then write and then walk in the woods, etc.  Tracee: The seasons definitely impact my work. Fall is productive for me, shorter days, more rain…. and as we head toward winter even worse weather! Yea! We tend to do most of our travel in the summer which is a great break, and provides inspiration and also gives me the ‘get back to work’ boost when the days shorten. Susan’s comment made me think about my tie to ‘institutions’. I spent a long time either in school or working for a university, and my husband is still on that calendar. I think this is one of the reasons I love working in the fall. There is a back to school, the whole year is in front of you, feeling to it. Fresh start and all things are possible! Michele: I used to prefer writing indoors in fall or winter, especially when it was raining or snowing or frigid outside. But when I began spending more time in warmer, sunnier climates I had to change that. I started writing outdoors in the shade, often on a beach under a tree. I almost felt like I was “cheating,” not really writing. Then I read some advice by our agent [Alison adds: the one, the only, the fabulous Paula Munier] in her book, “The Writer’s Guide to Beginnings” suggesting that bringing creative endeavors outside in nature boosts creativity. Now I write outdoors or on a porch all the time, with permission and pleasure. Alexia: My writing is season-free. Or is it season-less? Since I’m whatever the polar opposite of the outdoors type is, I do all my writing in climate-controlled, enclosed spaces. Pubs and hotel lobbies are open year-round.

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