Saturday, September 4, 2010

Late Summer, Odds and Ends and Non Hurricanes

I haven't been on the computer in so long that I had to use a DustBuster and damp rags to get BabyCat's hair off the keyboard. She is so weird; she loves nothing more than a nap on a nearby keyboard. There's a bed and a comfy chair not far from this keyboard, so that kind of doesn't add up. But that's the nature of cats: they resent assumptions.

This is such a strange time here, calendar wise. I'm not wild about the ten days or so before school starts. Being a teacher and having three kids as students means a whole lot of odds and ends have to get taken care of. There have been all these little things to do that don't add up to much but take up entire days like buying school supplies, going to redundant meetings, and standing in lots of lines. All this preparing for Tuesday when everything opens. 

Then there's the hurricane preparing. The hype caused our neighbors to remind us tie down deck furniture for a hurricane that never materialized. No one would go anywhere near the beaches for a few days. And that's a shame since the beaches are gorgeous right now. Late August and early September are probably the best times for a beach, or maybe that's just when I like it. We live right by Long Beach Island.

Here's our beach - I love the fences around the dunes. You can't see them so much in this picture, but most of them slope and have this great wobbly effect:

And the dock over the bay:
I just finished a book about writing theory and it said, "Never use weather to open your setting. It is too obvious a device." I think preparing for a hurricane would be a great opening to a book. I was thinking about writing theory as I read that book last night, and I'm not sure there is one - a writing theory I mean. I do remember running to the campus book store when I was 21 and ready to write my first novel. I bought about five of those books, anxious to get started. And I remember how the advice pretty much conflicted. I think I would sum up my writing theory as: Tell the story clearly, just make sure you have a really good story.  

I think this blog post is rambling since that pretty much matches what's been going on here lately. I did manage to figure out the "voice" in my next YA book that I've been struggling with for a year now. It's totally different from when it started and it's the first one I don't doubt. So maybe there is a reason that hyper type people like me are forced to wait. Even if it is for hurricanes that don't appear or classes that haven't started  or voices in novels that don't speak in a way that convinces me they can carry the story I intend to write. Maybe all this waiting is a writing lesson of some sort. 


Jemi Fraser said...

You live in the most beautiful spot!! What gorgeous photos :)

The weeks on either side of school opening are nuts here too! Good luck :)

Anne Spollen said...

You're right, Jemi. I have to learn to appreciate it more; not everyone has a beach like that so nearby.

And I can't wait for October when all the "newness" is a little worn off and it's calmer.

Anonymous said...

I love that dock. There's a dock by me, but it's been closed off to the public for years.

We began school a few weeks ago. It's not easy to get into the swing of things. I'm still trying to find my rhythm.

Marcia said...

Cat hair on the keyboard? Got that. I don't know what it is about the feel of the keys, so maybe it's just that they want us to pet them instead of type.

Anne Spollen said...

Docks are one of my favorite places to be, Medeia. I even like the word. We go to that one all the time around sunset. It's an amazing place.

And we've been in school for only two days. I feel like I've just gotten off that dock and now I'm in a crowded subway wearing too tight clothes.

I don't know either, Marcia. BabyCat was half feral so she's a strange one. It could be that she's just seeking tranquility in a house full of kids and five other pets. She also sleeps on the shoe rack. Someday I'll figure her out.

Anita B. said...

Heyyyyyyyy ---- LOVED LOVED LOVED Light beneath ferns -- very spooky for me since i've always thought there r ghosts in real life walking around. Do u give interviews? Would love to do one.

- Anita (I am in a book club/group and we read ghostly tales such as yours)

storyqueen said...

Finding the right voice for a story is always the hardest part.

Yay! You've got it!

Love the beach pictures.


K.C. Shaw said...

I missed this post originally, but I have to let you know how much I love those pictures! And I agree, preparing for a hurricane is a definite exception to the 'don't open with weather.'

Plus, I just read a fantastic book (Triumff by Dan Abnett) that opened with something like three pages of description of rain, and it worked beautifully.

Glynis said...

Gorgeous beach! I agree a hurricane would make a great opening to a story. A wild and stormy event gets the adrenalin going!

Anne Spollen said...

Thanks, Shelley! Yeah, I can't go on in a story if I don't have the voice. That's vital.

I think, K.C., that most writing advice is worth the price you pay for it. Weather is part of atmosphere anywhere, and if it exists in real life, it's fine. Actually, even if it doesn't exist in real life, like on the red planet, that's fine too.

In a romance novel, especially, Glynis!

Mary Witzl said...

I love that fence! I'd trade you ours for it in a day -- yours has fewer weeds around it.

You're so right about cats. We've got a cat with a state-of-the-art litter box with a lid and cat flap, which I fill regularly with expensive, natural cat litter. He craps in our bathtub instead and has done so every single day since we acquired him and his pal. It could be worse, but given that beautiful litter box of his, it is pretty annoying.

Is it really an obvious device to start a book with a weather description? I can't imagine picking up a well-written book and throwing it aside because it started off with a thunderstorm or a hot, dry day.

Anne Spollen said...

Long Beach Island, NJ IS really beautiful. We have to drive there, even though it's a short distance, the houses are on the Atlantic so a tiny bungalow is exorbitant.But yeah, it's gorgeous.

Yup, about the cats. If they sense an expectation, it's over. You are there to serve them.

I think writing advice is pretty useless except to tell a good story well. You can't make generalizations like that, I mean to generalize... :P

Anonymous said...

I just finished Light Beneath Ferns. I absolutely loved it. I'm not sure what draws me in with the book. I picked it up for my daughter and wound up reading it myself. I think the character resonates with me as I've always found myself prefering to be alone & still having to fight for that right. Plus the haziness/fog is such great symbolism for how many of us live our lives. Occasionally someone comes along who connects with us. I love all of it. Perfect book
By Anonymous on Light Beneath Ferns

Anne Spollen said...

Hi Anonymous -- Sorry to overlook your comment earlier; it went into my spam folder (I keep getting strange,long messages in Russian)

So glad you liked Light Beneath Ferns! It is kind of a strange book that not everyone connects to, but when they do, it's usually a strong connection. Elizah is not a very typical "girl protagonist" -- I am so glad you wrote to tell me!