Writing in Seasons

Fall is my second-favorite season (spring wins because it’s warmer). One of the things I like about it is the sense of calm that comes after summer. Summer is typically busy — a good kind of busy, as it’s filled with trips and barbecues and movies and hours of light — but as evidenced by all those and’s, it’s still busy. As the weather cools, it’s easier to pause for a moment and sit in a chair with a cup of tea.

It’s also easier to pause and write. I write all year, but during the summer and spring, I find it more difficult to write anything long. I finished the first draft of Please Give in April, and sent it for edits in June. I thought I’d spend the time it was with my editor working on my next novel.

I thought wrong. It was a prolific stage, as I finished five short stories and started another, longer one between April and September. But it was prolific in a somewhat manic way, as I wrote in short story bursts as opposed to one long, lingering novel (though there were times when pounding out pages of Please Give felt like anything but calm and lingering).

Fall is back, and so is the book. I’ve been revising it for the past few weeks, and of course, I got ideas for my next novel once my current one was back in my inbox. And, I not only got an idea for the next one, but an idea that would turn the unfinished, longer short story into a proper novella — or maybe even a novel, once it’s done. Two novels to work on, and I’m still revising the first one. Thanks, brain, for having such a great schedule.

In all seriousness, I am starting to wonder if fall and winter have become my novel-writing seasons, while spring and summer are the seasons for short stories. Fall and winter do lend themselves beautifully to a book. It gets darker earlier, which puts me inside with my laptop. There are a flurry of activities with the holidays, but it still feels slower than the onslaught of Things To Do that comes with the excitement of the weather warming up and my winter hibernation coming to a close.

All year, there is a lot — and all year, there is a lot to write. It seems for me at least, the time of year dictates how much I’ll write until the story feels complete.

Verse: September 1st

Happy September, everyone! September puts fall on the brain, even as the remnants of summer stick around for a while after Labor Day. Around here, September sees hot days but cooler nights — a sign of the season to come. Autumn is tied with spring for my favorite season. I love the changing leaves, cooking dishes with pumpkin, going to the Renaissance Fair, and of course, Halloween.

I wrote a quick verse about the first of September, which is below. I hope you all have a good weekend, month, and season!

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In summer’s warmth, the month of August
Seemed to disappear.
September rolls around the bend
To bring a cooler year.

9.1.17

Summer Rain

Photo (c) Sonora Taylor

It’s almost the solstice. One of my favorite parts of summer is its rain, and how fast and strong it passes through. I wrote a quick poem during a quick downpour yesterday afternoon, and wanted to share it with all of you. Happy Summer, everyone.

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Summer Rain

Rain upon the pavement
Sends steam into the air.
Clouds rush past,
The sun shines through,
The storm was never there.

6.19.17

Photo (c) Sonora Taylor

Verse: Ocean Blue

Today is the 7th anniversary of meeting my one true love. To celebrate, we went to Miami Beach. Below is a quick poem I wrote for him. Happy Monday, everyone.

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I look across the ocean
Am blinded by the blue
I turn away, my heart grows full
Upon the sight of you. 

Monarch

It’s a rainy, gloomy Friday morning. We need the rain, and truth be told, it’s nice to listen to in my pajamas. Still, I can’t help but crave a little brightness. I wrote this short piece yesterday, a quick story about a girl and a butterfly taking a walk together. Imagining the butterfly’s wings is a nice bright spot on a cloudy morning. I hope you enjoy it. Have a good weekend, everyone.

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Monarch

The sun shone over the Pacific on a cold morning. Meghan pulled her sweater close as she exited her cabin, walking towards the main lodge for breakfast. How could a morning look so warm and feel so frigid?

It was a mystery that occupied Meghan’s mind to the point where she almost missed a flash of orange on the ground — one that was dangerously close to disappearing under her shoe.

“Oh my gosh, I’m sorry!” she exclaimed, even though she knew the butterfly couldn’t understand her. The butterfly’s wings trembled as it tottered on its legs, twitching for sunlight.

Meghan looked up at the trees. What she’d thought was a blanket of dead leaves was actually a cluster of monarchs, all sleeping on the tree they’d chosen as a pit stop for their annual migration. All were still, waiting for the afternoon sun.

One hadn’t waited long enough. Meghan crouched towards the ground, moving her hand towards the butterfly. It leapt into the air, then fell with a thud on the grass. It was still too cold to fly. Meghan tried again, but more gently. She laid her fingertip in its path.

The butterfly stayed still, then wove one leg across Meghan’s finger. Another, and another still, until all were threaded over her skin. Meghan slowly, carefully lifted her hand. The butterfly stayed put.

They walked together, meandering up the hill in the shade. Meghan waited for the butterfly to take flight. It didn’t. It soared via Meghan’s hand, its orange wings a bright contrast to the cold of the ocean and the dark of the mountain.

Soon, they approached the garden, where flowers were waking in time with the sun creeping over the dirt. While Meghan enjoyed her companion’s company, she knew a flower was a better home for a butterfly than her hand. “Here you go,” she said, stooping towards a marigold.

The butterfly paused. Meghan moved her hand closer to the petals.

One leg upon the petal. Then another.

The butterfly stood on the marigold. Slowly, its wings unfolded. The sun landed on its citrus wings, and the dots upon its night-sky border sparkled like stars.

Meghan smiled. “You’re welcome.”

5.4.17

Haiku: Droplets

Happy Friday, everyone. It’s a sunny day, and in the D.C. area, it’s going to be quite hot. It’s a pre-summer day ahead of a weekend that promises rain. It’s also a day filled with my day job, working on the final pages of Please Give (!!), and beginning some short stories once Please Give is ready to simmer.

As such, my Friday post will be short this week. April 17th was National Haiku Day, and a rainy day at that. I wrote the following as my contribution. Hope you all have a good weekend, whatever the weather.

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Droplets

Gentle droplets fall
Upon the blades of grass, and
All becomes anew

4.17.17

Grey Days

It’s a cloudy morning in Arlington. I’ve always liked cloudy days. I don’t want them all the time, as one too many days without the sun quickly makes my mood match the weather outside. But every few days or so, a bit of cloudiness can serve nature well. I wrote the essay below on a cloudy autumn day, and while it’s spring (technically, at least. It’s been really cold all week), I believe it still applies. Enjoy, and have a good weekend.

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Grey Days

Grey days are far from dreary. They can be just as beautiful as the golden ones.

Consider autumn leaves. Their hues of red, gold, orange, and everything in between are striking in all sorts of light. But imagine them shining against a backdrop of grey clouds. They look uniquely beautiful, do they not?

The same can be said of the greenest tree and the brightest bird. By giving the sun a break, a cloud can help to highlight all of the beauty we were too blinded by rays of sunshine to fully see.

A grey day is special in that it helps us see beauty in ways we may not have considered before. It asks you to pause, and breathe, and truly look. So if you find yourself awakening to a day lacking in the sun, do not spend it waiting for the sun to come back. Rather, take a look and see what you may miss when the sun is in your eyes.

9.26.16

Stray Passage: Sea of Green

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone! I love this holiday, even though I skip the crazier parts of celebrating it. My husband and I prefer going to a local bar, getting a Guinness and some soda bread, and listening to two men who play live Irish folk music there each year. It’s how that bar celebrates until roughly 9 PM, when the musicians are swapped for a DJ and patrons like myself are swapped for recent college grads wearing the traditional St. Paddy’s garb of Party City.

I wanted to write an impromptu story about St. Patrick’s Day today, but found myself writing of the ocean instead. I then wanted to write a short story about the ocean, but found myself unable to finish after the final line. Perhaps I will finish it later, and continue it in another post. Perhaps it will become the opening of another book, once I finish Please Give. For now, it’s a stray passage in need of a home – and for now, that home is here. Enjoy – and if you have ideas for where it should go next, feel free to leave them in the comments!

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Sea of Green

When I first saw the ocean as a child, I was struck by the fact that it was green. Whenever I’d seen a wave crash on television or a boat sail in a book, it had been on an ocean of blue. My mother took me to the beach, and I furrowed my brow and declared, “That’s not the ocean – it’s green.”

She chuckled at my innocence. “That is the ocean, even though it looks green. It’s the way of the Atlantic.”

I wouldn’t see a blue ocean until many years later, as I watched the Pacific crash on some rocks beneath my balcony. I typed on my computer, sipping coffee as the sun rose and brightened the cliffs surrounding the water. Bordered by oceans of blue and green, I smiled at the thought of our hetero-chrome country, its watery eyes gazing at the varied terrains in between them. I trekked across them often, as my mother stayed faithful to the sea of green, and I’d cross any mountain, desert, or plain to see her when she called.

Snow Day: Weather and Novel Excerpt

It’s March 14th. It’s also a snow day. Our cherry tree is surrounded by sleet, our superintendent is shoveling the walk, and my husband and I are working remotely — all after the start of Daylight Savings Time.

March has brought unexpected winter weather for the past few years, but I thought we’d escape that trend this year, given we barely had a winter. One dusting, a couple bone-cold days that made my jeans freeze to my legs, but overall, nothing remarkable — and many days where I was fine with a light jacket.

Today’s snow is the equivalent of someone who blew you off when you tried to ask them out, then called you the minute you moved on to someone else. “Hey, remember me?” “I’d rather not.” “Well, I’m calling you anyway. Surprise!”

I do enjoy snow days (though I enjoy them more in their proper season). One of my favorite things to do as a kid was to bury myself sides-deep in snow, stare at the sky, and listen to my breath. Snow has a muting effect, one that’s very useful for a brain that moves in a thousand directions at most given moments.

A snowstorm makes an appearance in Please Give, albeit in January, when one would expect it. Below is a quick excerpt of Beth enjoying the snow with a very close friend. Enjoy, and afterward, enjoy your day, whichever season it’s encapsulating.

I fell asleep looking out his balcony door, the sky overcast but not yet open. When I awoke the next morning, the view outside was completely white. Several inches of snow were piled against the window, and I could see flakes swirling rapidly in the air. All the buildings in view had neat layers of snow on top of them.

It looked lovely. And even better, it meant that the office wasn’t open. I grabbed my phone, and saw that it was still way too early to be awake for a remote day. I guess my internal alarm didn’t get the memo that it was a snow day.

Neither did his. I felt him stirring next to me, and turned to face him. He opened his eyes and smiled at me. An actual smile, not one that was hiding something. I felt better.

“Look outside,” I said, scooting back so he could see.

His eyes widened, and he sat upright. “Wow, it’s really coming down.”

We watched the snow for a while. “I love snow,” I said, placing my hands over my knees and my chin over my hands. “It’s so peaceful. It just washes everything away, makes everything quiet and new. It’s soothing.”

I felt his hand begin to stroke my back. I turned back to him, and saw him looking at me kindly. “I’m glad you’re sharing it with me.”

I gave a small smile. “Me too.”

A Quiet Place to Read

The National Mall is a wonderful place to read. I remember starting Harry Potter for the first time on one of its benches, and finishing Of Mice and Men on another. It is also one of the most popular destinations in D.C., which sometimes interferes with its more peaceful elements. I wrote the essay below when I was feeling a bit sour about all the distractions keeping me from my book of choice (I believe it was Between the World and Me, which was excellent). My outlook on finding peaceful reading spots is typically more optimistic, though I maintain that Heaven will be filled with both books and places to read them.

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A Quiet Place to Read

The other day I walked to the National Mall to read while I waited for my husband to meet me downtown. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon, with cooler weather than we’d had in weeks. I found a bench under some scant shade, and could only hear the wind.

As I read, I heard some noises you’d expect in a busy park. Cars here and there. People walking by and taking pictures in front of the Capitol.

My flow was interrupted by machinery. I looked over and saw construction underway on one of the mall’s many lawns. It ceased. I continued to read.

The sounds of cars came ever closer. I looked up, and saw a pick-up truck driving on the mall itself.

Don’t cars have enough space as it is that they don’t have to take up ours? No matter. It drove away, onto the road where it belonged.

I heard a small hissing. I looked at the ground, and saw a squirrel walking expectantly towards me. I shooed it away, and it slowly kept creeping back, until I shooed it away a few times and it finally saw that my book was not food. I silently cursed those who’d fed that squirrel and thus sculpted its natural instincts into something altogether unnatural.

The squirrel returned to a tree, and I returned to my former tree. Suddenly a pop song blared through the air. I looked up and could not find the exact source, though I guessed it had something to do with the stage a few blocks away with giant white letters saying HOPE. Ironic, given that it was dashing away any hope I had of a quiet afternoon of reading.

It was just as well, for around that time, my husband texted me to let me know he was coming downtown. As I put my book away, I decided that, if Heaven exists, it is a library; for only in death will we ever find a quiet place to read.

~September 15, 2016