My favorite seasons are spring, summer, and early fall. In New England those are the seasons with warmth and light. And, surprise, those are the seasons in which my books are situated.
Some of my writing leans toward the darker side. You’d think that I’d want to spin my plot in a more suitable season, perhaps at the end of October when spirits are said to roam. Not so far. I’ve been more comfortable writing settings with birds, butterflies, and happy tourists. I like my characters to perspire, dive into pools, and wear sandals with their sundresses. Of course, that’s when they’re not seeing ghosts or fighting for their lives.
For me, being comfortable with a setting, gives me the ability to write in a more active manner. One of my biggest faults is telling rather than showing.
In warm weather I like to stroll through city streets noticing colors, scents, sounds, critters and architecture. I’ll stop to sit on a bench, enjoy the day and pay attention to the people around me, how they speak and act. Everything I see, feel and smell tucks itself into some remote pocket of my mind. Later, when I’m writing, I can call up those memories and relive them through my characters. In other words, I write what I see.
Conversely, in the cold weather, especially the winter months, I bundle up and walk quickly to my destination, usually with my head down to avoid the wind. Unless there is something exceptionally interesting, I don’t pay attention to my surroundings. All I know is that I’m cold and I want to get warm.
I know winter can be beautiful and some people love it. I’m not into winter or winter sports. I’d never be able to write an inspired story about skiing. My only experience happened a long time ago, when I fell off something called a T-bar and had to tramp through the woods to get back to the lodge. I suppose I could write a story about my inability to ski, how every time I fell (and that was often), someone had to help me up. I don’t know anything else about the sport. If I wanted to show my protagonist in that setting, I’d have to saddle her with the fear, aggravation, and embarrassment that I felt that day. I have never experienced the freedom or exhilaration of flying down the slope.
Fall is another season I have trouble loving. As a child, I equated the end of September through October with feelings of discomfort and dread. In those days children could pretty much run around on their own until their curfew, which usually meant the streetlights coming on.
The end of August meant the end of the summer crowd, so my favorite places along the waterfront or in the parks would be fairly deserted, but I’d still wander around. The scariest time was twilight, just before the lights came on. It held real and imagined dangers and I had a vivid imagination. Thankfully, nothing happened to me, but my friend was accosted by a flasher. I still remember how being alone in the almost dark caused a tingling fear. Those feelings of menace have appeared in a lot of my writing.
Today, spring is back in New England. I see it in the increased activity at the local florist, the appearance of landscaping trucks, and in the busy flight of the birds. Though the temperature is still dipping into the frigid zone, the date on the calendar and daylight savings have give me hope. I know it’s only a matter of time until I open the windows, invite in the warmth, and feed my creativity.