Tag Archives: writing advice

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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