Weather: The Forbidden Topic

I read once that an author should never start a book with the weather. I don’t remember who said this. It was in the context of a Guardian article in which writers shared their wisdom on writing, and this particular author (I believe it was a woman) mentioned one exception, that there was an author that was allowed to start a book with the weather  (I believe it was a man). The reason I bring this up is because I want to talk about the weather but couldn’t lead with it, so instead I introduced the whole topic of weather-discussion through the very fact it is forbidden at the beginning of a work, such as a blog post.

Let’s start in San Francisco, where I’m looking out the window through the gaps between the blinds. I can’t see much, but what I do see is shades of grey and raindrops, but it’s not sensual. It’s cold and I want to get back into bed and see how many months I can sleep.

If I were the heroine of a romantic novel, I would probably choose this time to go wandering the streets in inappropriate footwear. If I were a detective in an action movie, I’d smoke a cigarette on the street corner somewhere and remember an afternoon all dappled in sunlight in my life before I started police work and got caught bum-deep in the grime of the city. Part of me wishes I had stayed in the sun, but the other knows I didn’t have a choice. I take one last drag on the cigarette and toss it to the ground, waiting to hear the “tssss” of the embers dying in the water.

My real character sits in the mostly dark of her room and types, looking out the slats of the blind occasionally and piecing together the world behind it. The day is October 22, 2012. The rain falls harder outside. Next week is Halloween and a celebration of all kinds of things the administrators of my elementary school found frightening enough to have a night at the gym called “Hallelujah Night” to counteract it. I don’t think it worked, considering many of those students later wound up as pimps and ho’s at frat parties, the dressing-up itch still unscratched. And now they’re deciding who they will be all over again.

North of here, maybe it’s sunny. South of here, it’s definitely sunny. In the lumpy parts of the United States, snow is already falling. As people are leaving their houses all across America, some grab umbrellas, rain boots, down jackets, wind jackets, suit coats, water bottles, brown-bag lunches, and keys. They pat the dog, kiss the loved one, and get in the car, run to the bus, or hop on the bike. It might be wet, dry, hot, cool, leafy, humid, gray, or bright on the outside. Maybe they wish it was a different way, but that doesn’t change what they have to do, unless we’re talking about chalk artists or hot air balloonists.

Now comes the time for some great metaphor about the weather, or better yet, a simile. I’ll say, “The weather is like a hot dog, but you don’t always have to enjoy eating it when the bun is soggy.” You can unpack that statement, or move onto the next one which is this: soon I have to leave to get on the train and go to work, where I’ll probably sing to an 18 mo-old. I’m going to read a book on the train and I’m looking forward to that, despite the weather. I hope you have something you’re looking forward to today as well.

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14 thoughts on “Weather: The Forbidden Topic

  1. londongigger says:

    Don’t talk to me about weather, I live in London, UK. Having just seen the wettest spring and summer for many years with the exception of a few bright days during the Olympics and Paralympics (thankfully), its a serious business. When you go to a summer music festival, a waterproof is a must, even if it appears to be dry and bright. Ireland is even worse. You can have four seasons in one day over there.

  2. Kimberly says:

    It was a dark and stormy night…. I say, go for weather starter. EVERYone knows how to relate to weather talk. Ha.

  3. amydenby says:

    When I was in 12th grade an actual english assignment was for everyone in the entire class to write an essay that began with “sometimes in life.” “Sometimes in life, you have to start by talking about the weather…” Great writing!

  4. Sunny Fog rhymes with Funny Blog x

  5. GreedyFrog says:

    In Britain, weather talk is almost compulsory. It is a social code, an acceptable, non-threatening way to start a conversation with a total stranger.
    I am not sure talking about the weather at the start of a novel or an article is such a big no-no, though. I guess it depends on the quality of the writing. And yours is good so you could probably pull it off! 🙂

  6. jensine says:

    I like weather but then I am half Irish so half of my conversations have to do with rain

  7. San Francisco is always surprisingly cold. Just always. Like Mark Twain said, “The coldest winter I ever spent was the summer I spent in San Francisco.”

    I’m trying to think of great novels that start with a description of weather, now… “It was the sunniest of times, it was the cloudiest of times”?

  8. Abbadon1701 says:

    Well, nice post, I like it 😉 Must admit I like your writing-style. Read some of your other posts as well and liked how you write. But well, fair enough. I simply like your blog 🙂

    Here in “good old” Germany (*gg*) weather’s been real weird. It’s autumn. Or at least it’s supposed to be that ^^. But today was really weird! It’s been a nice beautiful summer- or late summer-day…^^ 20 degrees Celsius or even a little above… it should be cold and rainy and really nasty. It should be depressing to look outside and poeple should be wearing their “will-this-day-ever-end???”- or “why-do-I-have-to-live-through-this???”- or simply “life-sucks!!!”-faces. But nothing alike! Weird. Absolutley weird.

    I’d be smiling as well if it had rained, anyway, I guess, because I don’t really care too much about the weather… it comes and goes like every day. And there’s always a time for something … or anything 🙂

    The most fascinating is this living-the-moment-thing. Whith that I mean to say: Live NOW, freed from the weight of the past holding you down and freed from the fear of the uncertain future. Just this very moment. See the beauty 😉

    When I looked at the picture in your post I first saw the green elements in it. Nature! That’s heavy! Nice! I like it! A little later I read your description and thougt, well, truly ther IS SOME grey in it… but raindrops? Well, rain is giving clarity. That’s a good thing 😉 Definitly, my point of view is another.

    You can change it too, if you like 😉 Everybody can. It’s a question of will and a bit of knowledge 😉 It’s your world, you create it. With every thought you think – consciously or unconsciously.

    Think about it. Experiment with it. See and learn to see. Be invited to create a better world for everyone 😉

  9. Pat says:

    I too have read that you shouldn’t talk about the weather in novels. Or not much. But in England, people sometimes talk about little else. It colours our days, influences what we wear, what we eat, whether we will set foot outside the door at all.
    I’ve got a little shop this week, just for the week, and it was dreadful all week end because it poured with rain all week end. No one was in my shop because no one with a drop of common sense was out of the house.
    And if you read Kathy Reichs, she always talk about the weather. Usually the cold. In some of her books, she talks about it incessantly.
    So, don’t think you can generalise. If we use weather, maybe we should use it a lot and call it a theme or a motif!

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