Tag: the writing life

the writing life

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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Throwback Thursday

Remember when I would wait like a high school junior at the mailbox for my latest rejection letter from an agent? Remember when I got so many that I lost count….  Whenever I start feeling overwhelmed by launching a new book and all the what-ifs–am I promoting enough, am I selling enough, will folks like the story, will I ever have another book contract, etc.–I remind myself that there was a day when I aspired to be plagued with these doubts as opposed to the what-if-I-wrote-this-for-nothing what-if.  Writing on spec is one of the most difficult things to do (I know. I did it in between book contracts just last year). You are pouring yourself into a project and you’re not even sure that it will be read by anyone save immediate family members. You hope, but you know that writing and reading is subjective. Just because you like a story, doesn’t mean anyone else will. And, even if you write a brilliant story, it doesn’t mean that your artistry will come across in an elevator pitch. I am fortunate to have a wonderful agent that makes me confident that everything I write will eventually find a home. I also remember all too well when I didn’t.   So, the purpose of this post is to tell all the would-be authors out there penning a novel with the dream of getting traditionally published that what you are doing is difficult. It can be demoralizing. It can be frustrating and self-doubt inducing and throw-the-computer-across-the-room-infuriating. But, hang in there. That old adage about success and perspiration is true. It just doesn’t make clear that some of the sweating isn’t from effort but fear and frustration.    

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