27 January 2009

Planning to write

Weather is a funny thing. Or perhaps it's not so much weather as foreign weather -- weather in a space that isn't your own, that doesn't behave as the weather you're familiar with. And seeing I'm from the city that's famous for having four seasons in a day, I thought I was used to everything. (Well, everything except rain, of course!) Wrong.

But let me explain. We've just been away on holidays, and part of my holiday experience always includes writing, whether I'm camping and away with a notebook (the paper kind) and jotting notes and poems, or somewhere more upmarket (ie with electricity) where I can take my laptop and happily plug away on my novel.

Holidaying with the family isn't quite the writing experience that going on a writer's retreat is. Obviously, it's much poorer writing-wise because you have to spend a lot of time with family doing family-type things, whether that's sightseeing, playing cards, bushwalking, swimming or whatever. At least I do. (And we did all of those this holiday.) So writing time becomes a precious precious thing -- something you have to budget for.

Very diligently, I planned out my writing time. Trouble was that one of my kids had borrowed my laptop and played games and flattened the battery, which didn't bother me too much as I prefer to work plugged-in with a brighter screen. So, the appointed time came, and I was faced with a thunderstorm. No drama. I switched off the computer and waited till it had passed, by which time I was booked up to do something else.

Meticulously, I planned out writing time the next day. After all, where I live, we rarely get thunderstorms so I wasn't likely to face another one, right? Wrong. Next day, same thing. And the next and the next. For five days out of the nine we were away (and the first and last days were spent driving -- so, really, we're talking five days out of seven) we had thunderstorms for part of each day. Although where we visited was sub-tropical, it certainly felt like tropical weather.

This meant writing time was much scarcer than I'd hoped for, because I also wasn't game to leave the computer charging while we were out. These storms just rolled in when we least expected them. One minute it would be sunny and hot; the next indigo clouds would be rolling in. We saw cloud formations I'd never seen before -- strange bubble-like patterns, dimpled like the surface of a mattress.

On the other hand, I did do lots of reading, and I found myself thinking about my novel -- always easy to do, but interesting when you're in the type of setting that your characters are inhabiting for at least part of their journey. All the smells and sounds and textures are there for you to experience. I love it! And there's no point getting too frustrated at how many more hours you could have been writing (I did squeeze in a few) because you're doing that other thing that writers should be doing: getting out there and living!


Ellen said...

do you always turn your computer off in thunderstorms?

Tracey said...

Always. Even though we have safety switches (but these are relatively new). My kids were watching TV at my mum's house once in a thunderstorm and the TV blew up. I don't make phone calls either. Maybe I'm just paranoid, but I also had a friend who was killed by lightning when we were both in Year 11.