Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Snow, Writing and Other More Lyrical Musings Than I Had in Mind When I Sat Down to Write This

So, I told you yesterday it was snowing. It made me very happy. Happier still was the me that got to drive home in the twirling, whirling cascading snow that threatened to settle but never did. By the time I got to my apartment, it was snowing quite hard.

I've been waiting for it to snow since last year when I stood out on my parent's deck on Christmas Night, looked up at the snow and told myself that I had to come back to the Midwest. I missed snow. I missed my parents. I missed my brothers and sisters. I missed my nieces and nephews. I felt like it was time to come back.

When I left Indiana to move to L.A., I had a dream of being a screenwriter. I think almost any writer who does move to L.A. has the same dream. It wasn't an easy path to take but I tried anyway. I didn't get very far in my quest. I learned to write dialogue by writing screenplays. I entered contests. I got an agent to request a script but I didn't get further than that. And then, one day, I got stuck on an ending to a script. It wasn't working and I needed to rewrite it. I brainstormed how to do it, thought of everything and nothing worked.

So I decided to try writing a novel. I'd just read Stephen King's fantastic book, On Writing, and he made me think I could write a novel. So I tried it. And it was good. You know in movies where the hero or heroine has a sudden ephiphany and you hear the "Hallelujah!" chorus to signify the magnitude of the moment? That's how I felt when I sat down to write a novel. I could hear the Hallelujah chorus in my head. It was like a rush of air, a feeling of warmth slowly flooding through me. I always compare screenplays and novels to lying in a bed. A screenplay is like lying in a small twin bed in which you have a limited space. You have to show a story and convey it in dialogue tightly, concisely with nothing extraneous. And then, with a novel, it's like moving up to a king size bed. You can spread out, take your time to explain things, describe things, the dialogue has to be good but it doesn't have to be rushed. For me, it was almost like coming home.

And so, I wrote a novel. Then another one. Then three more in the series. After that, I took a break but I heard Green Day's "American Idiot" album and I needed to write again. I took that album and I let it guide me through a story, not stealing from the album but, rather, letting it weave through my story like a silent, invisible spiderweb. After that, I wrote a few query letters but nothing happened. I buried my disappointment in another novel, one that was supposed to be light and fluffy but ended up being somewhat dark and twisty. I took another break and wrote short stories but again, got disillusioned by rejection, becoming slightly bitter.

I wrote another novel. This one darker and drier than the other fare. I have a dry sense of humour. It tends to show through in my writing. You might have noticed that.

And that's where I am now. Eight novels under my belt during a seven-year stint in L.A. That's not a bad effort but it's also a good place to stop and wonder if I had to live there. And I realized I didn't. I could live anywhere.

So I moved. I'm back in a place where it rains and snows. Where the trees turn beautiful colours in the Autumn. When the dark, cold days of January and February bleach the world of all colour and show a landscape of barren nothingness, often coated with ice or rain. But it's also a place where, in March, a few balmy spring days let the crocuses and daffodils that have shyly and bravely pushed their stalks up into the cold frozen ground suddenly decide that it's time to bloom. And so the world begins to change into a spring landscape; the ice and snow melt, the flattened soggy ground begins to dry and spring hits, full force.

Last night, I stood on my balcony, my hands wrapped around a mug of Williams Sonoma Peppermint Hot Chocolate (SO worth the splurge) and let the snow fall on me. Snow is peaceful to me. There is nothing more tranquil than looking out onto a world covered in freshly fallen snow, sounds are muffled, the light is brighter in reflection. Seeing the snowflakes fall eased the back-of-my-mind worries that I'd done the right thing in leaving the friends I'd made in L.A., the life I'd carved out for myself. I miss them a lot. I miss my routines, the restaurants, the movies, USC football...everything that defined my life there. But standing there, watching the snow, calmed those worries and eased the last of my doubt.

This morning, I got up and found that the sun was shining but the telltale signs of the snowfall were still around, encrusted onto my windshield, patches of unmelted flakes clustered in the shadows. I woke up to a song on the radio that actually inspired my first novel, a song that fills me with the remembered passion I felt while having that epiphany that this was it. This was what I was supposed to do. And now, with the first snowfall of the season melting away, it's time to begin again. To write again. To stop looking at the things I left and look at the life I have now, car wrecks, speeding tickets included.

It's supposed to snow again on Thursday. I hope it does. I love this time of year. I heard that it's in the '80's in L.A. I like this weather better.

Ask me again in February though. I never said I couldn't be fickle.

Happy Tuesday.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

I love snow, too, Sam. And this is one of the best posts you've written to date. :-)