...I'm going to talk about the weather.
Do we write about it enough in our fiction given it governs what we do most of the time? This summer I've had to have Plan B, then Plan C as the weather has scuppered the first two plans.
In womag fiction summer is summer.....sunshine and beaches and splashing in the pool and sandcastles and balmy nights sipping cocktails. It takes us out of ourselves even if we haven't been able to experience any of those things for ourselves for whatever reason.
Autumn is falling leaves and bonfires.
Winter is ice and snow and mulled wine and Christmas.
Spring is new lambs and primroses and the promise of better things..
As a womag fiction writer myself I would stick to those rules. And, in fairness to womag fiction - which often gets a bad press from the literati - there isn't much space in a 1000 word or a 2000 word story to expand on the weather.
But what of novels? I've been reading quite a few recently - some of it in my Plan C - and I've noticed a distinct lack of mention of weather. Or even seasons to be honest, and I've been reading all sorts.
When I began to think about this blog post I looked through the book I'm currently reading - not going to name it as that wouldn't be kind to the very-excellent-in-every-other-way-except-the-lack-of-mention-of -weather.prose. And there wasn't a single clue about which season it might be even. There was no mention of scarves around necks, or strappy T-shirts being worn, or having to put a cardigan on the baby because it was getting a bit nippy in the mornings, no zipping up raincoats or hunting for brollies.
And yet the weather can change things for us just as it is so changeable in itself. Our heroine could step out, bandbox fresh, into a clear sky yet be soaked before she got to the stationb/the interview/the wedding at which she is a guest - and the whole story could change.
When I was wrote my debut novel, TO TURN FULL CIRCLE, I had my heroine, Emma, thinking back over a conversation she'd had with the hero, Seth, when they both began to realise their true feelings for one another. It went something like this:-.
'We talked of nothing much, save how noisy the oystercatchers were, and wasn't the thrift beautiful on the cliffs, and was it going to be as good a summer as it was last year. And yet something changed between us.....'
And then my edits came back. 'Was it a good summer in 1908? Evidence.'
I think, because I am profoundly deaf, I probably notice things more. I'm always the first in my house to notice rainspots on the balcony and the patterns they make. I'm usually the first to spot a rainbow - now, do they get a mention in fiction very often? Unless it is the theme of a story, I mean. And I cloud watch. I don't know my nimbus from my cumulus but my late mother-in-law taught me that flat-bottomed clouds that look as though they've been sliced by a cheese-slicer mean it isn't going to rain even if those clouds are grey. Those wispy clouds that look like straggly vapour trails are fair-weather clouds and tomorrow will be sunny, too.
So...the weather.....it affects us all. And can thrill us all. I recently took my five year old grandson to London. He wanted to see the dinosaurs in the Museum of Natural History. And ride in a London taxi. And see Big Ben for himself instead of only on the TV. He did all of those things and more.
But what was the highlight of the trip for him?
The cracking thunderstorm that hit as we walked out of the Museum of Natural History. The clap of thunder was deafening, the lightning like a firework display, and the rain bounced off the pavement and halfway up our legs. And far from being terrifying it was rather thrilling....well, for Alex it was.