Monday, July 14, 2014

Weather problems

Here in Scotland, we're having summer. Some years we don't bother, squelching seamlessly from a soggy spring to a saturated June, July and August until we get to autumn when the weather's bad. The immortal Flanders and Swann described it in their take-off of a ballad about the months: 'In July the sun is hot./ Is it shining? No, it's not.'

This year, though, it is shining and even if 76F isn't 112F, the way it is at Donis's place in Phoenix, that seems pretty balmy to us. Happy faces all round.

The only problem is that in the other half of my life, the one I live in sitting down at my desk, the sun isn't shining. It's a slow, reluctant spring with storms and torrential downpours and it's dark at about six o'clock, not light until nearly eleven.

The kind of books I write, with a countryside setting, rely a lot on weather for atmosphere and of course I can check what time it got dark in February even if I can't remember exactly. The danger doesn't come when I'm aware of setting a scene, it comes when I'm at ease with the book, absorbed in it and I suppose living it, really. And I look out of the window and it's a sunny day and the birds are singing, and that somehow that sneaks into the story. The birds don't sing much in February — hardly at all, in fact.

There's a danger of roses round the door, too, at a time when they are no more than pruned stumps. I spend a lot of time Googling 'plants blooming in Galloway in March' since, no being a gardener I can never remember whether the daffodils come before the bluebells or vice versa.

It works the other way round too. If I'm absorbed in my storms and tempests it comes as a bit of a shock when I emerge, blinking, to find that it was a nice day after all.

I've never managed to write a book in such a way that its seasons and mine coincide but it would certainly make life a lot easier if I could.

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