Streaks of clouds in pre-sunset peach and charcoal-purple cut through a cerulean sky. The weather is changing. There’s been intermittent light rain interspersed with brief sunny breaks through much of the past few days, but flurries are in today’s forecast.
I don’t fuss over the weather. There’s a saying here on the west coast, “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes.” Some folks also say, “If you can’t see the mountains, it’s raining. If you can, it’s going to rain.” The more optimistic of us point to how green everything is, thanks to the rain.
My mood isn’t affected, whatever the colour of the sky. There are people whose mood is, and some who even experience S.A.D. — Seasonal Affective Disorder — during low light seasons. I tend to forget that it’s a very real, clinical disorder, and I can sometimes be insensitive to those who complain about the weather, or display negativity, discouragement and depression because of it.
During November’s NaNoWriMo my project was to rewrite the ending of a recently completed manuscript. As I rushed headlong through the words, instead of resolving my protagonist’s dilemmas, I ended up heaping more upon her. Nothing seems to go right for her, and I’ve realized a lot of the time it’s because of her negative perspective. The story happens between November and February. I’m beginning to wonder if she has S.A.D. That would explain a lot, but it complicates the plot.
The story is taking off in a direction I didn’t intend, and I’m not sure I like this feeling of losing control.
If you’re a writer, are you always in control of your story and its characters? What happens when your control slips away?
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6 thoughts on “Blame everything on the weather!”
I’m one of those who fight mood from October to March. There may be several factors involved, but I can truly empathize with S.A.D.
The out of control feeling persists in writing and in life. My anchor is that no matter how I feel about it, God is still in control. And I reread Romans 8.
Good plan, Judith! “The spirit helps us in our weakness… all things work together for good for those who love God… we are more than conquerors through him who loved us… and nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” That can get us through anything!
I experience S.A.D. beginning in November every year when the light begins to change. Usually a good fall of white, bright snow helps.
I often hear writers being interviewed on CBC, and so often one of them will say that the story “took off” on them, or “it just wrote itself” or like comments. I think such an experience might well make the work very interesting to the writer. But maybe a bit frustrating too!
Writers tend to fall into two camps: plotters and pantsers (i.e., writing from the seat of their pants). I’m somewhere in the middle… more of a pantser but with a vague idea of where I’m headed. When my imagination shoots off on some tangent it can be a challenge to make the new scenes relevant!
How well I know that feeling when the character takes off in a new direction. It happens every book and I have to step back and see how to use it.
First off, if all weather forecasts were as deliciously described as yours, I’d always have it on the telly!
As for losing control, I hear ya. Sometimes, we invest so much of ourselves (time, effort, the whole nine) into these characters and we just need to hand over the wheel to let them drive.
However, there are many ways that unpredictability can backfire. One of my projects is on its sixth revamp–finally one I can get completely onboard with. It was my April Camp NaNo idea that began as the indecision of which fairytale I wanted to twist which turned into a mash-up of two, then it became the second book in a series, then it became an origin story. By the time August rolled around, I decided the origin story (that had to do with the protag’s elusive mother) would either be the first book or a novella teaser. In the grand scheme of weaving a web, I think I ended up in a different continent after all that.
I’m getting control back now. It’s funny how it happened, too. This NaNo, I worked on a different project. A writing blog I follow offered some free edits for the first 100 words of WIPs as well as a synopsis critique. I thought it to be a good break from my current WIP, so I gave it a whirl. She gushed over the 100 words. Since I first began the project, this was probably the 13th version. Each time the tone, the voice, the overall feel evolved. I’m actually excited she’s excited!
The synopsis is another beast. I think I overwrote it but the whole point was to get feedback, so I went for it anyway. What I discovered was I was writing a slightly altered version of my original idea–and I like it. I surprised myself at the new subplots and how certain characters came to be connected.
Wow. Apologies for this essay! What I mean to say after all this is that losing control has its benefits. But putting it aside for a spell, which in my case was a few months while I worked on other revisions, gave me a new opportunity to tackle the story from a different angle. I think it’s much better than it was before and I believe I have regained control of the story.
Hugs and perpetual cheers for ya,