Old habits die hard…

English: White MacBook laptop
English: White MacBook laptop (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Greetings from the rural lands of northern Illinois! We’re getting that big snow that the weather people and everyone else have been talking about for the past few days, and—for once—they weren’t wrong. Safe and dry here in my work room, warmed by the glow of my MacBook screen and keyboard and a tall hot mug of strong coffee nearby, I look out on a world of white. As I tend to do at times such as these, I harken back to Jack London’s classic phrase, The white silence, and watch it come down fast and furious and beautiful.

 Funny thing, though, earlier, as the wife was hurriedly getting ready to head off to her job an hour’s drive away—not long after this whole storm was getting cranked up—I was making the bed (one of my grueling daily chores!) and had the radio tuned in to the news and listening to the announcer read off a list of school closings. It quickly jolted me back to all those winter mornings as a kid, and later as a teacher, when there was a storm impending or already raging, and I’d snap wide awake, hoping that my school would be included on the list. Sometimes, when the weather gods were smiling on me, my school would, indeed, be included. More often than not, though, the “storm of the century” that was supposed to hit us somehow moved off in another direction, missing us altogether, or just amounting to something less than original forecasts predicted.

 For whatever reasons, I’ve always loved snowstorms, especially when I have nowhere to go or nothing that I absolutely have to get done. And even though it’s ridiculous, when the predicted storm fails to materialize, for whatever reason, I find myself actually getting ticked-off at the professional weather “experts” who always get us excited and expectant for the thing!

 I’ve always considered snow days to be those perfect occasions to get caught up on overdue tasks (besides the common routines around the house) such as getting lost in a book or pounding out those thousand words to move the limping novel along just a bit more. These are perfect days for doing all of those little things that we’re always putting aside “until later” and never really having much eagerness to actually get to them. However, cleaning out that desk drawer now doesn’t seem like such a waste of time. Getting the books straightened on the bookshelves also seems to get accomplished. Somehow, the little things that get done feel like major things at the end of the day.

Jack London at Work
Jack London at Work (Photo credit: SP8254)

 And when the storm eventually peters out and stops altogether, there’s a good feeling that some important “stuff” got done inside, out of the snow and the beauty of the “white silence.” These days don’t come along too often anymore, but when they do, those old habits seem to die hard. What better time to get back to reading that book, or working on the novel, or—most definitely—enjoying another cup of that strong, hot coffee?…MLA

Days such as this…

Freezing Rain
Freezing Rain (Photo credit: Patrick Johanneson)

I’d almost forgotten what a gray winter day looked like! After all, it seems we’ve had nothing but endless days of sunshine, clear skies, and mostly mild temperatures. Today, though, a wild freezing rain has arrived on the back of strong and howling winds dashing about outside my workroom where I write this. I cannot see out because both the eastward-facing window screens are completely iced over—much like a glazed donut—and soon it will be dark and it won’t really matter anyway.

In days of old, this would have been snow, and folks would be outside right now, shovels in hand, and working to clear their walks and driveways and carrying on in true winter fashion. If one were to venture out now, I suspect there would be many mishaps—slipping, sliding, and falling—in attempting to get anywhere.

Since I have nowhere to go anyway, I see no reason at all to even think about leaving the warmth and comfort of my house and writing room. It’s intriguing, though, to think about the conditions which rage out there now. It’s always on days such as this—rare, indeed—that I long to pull from my book shelves those wonderful stories with inclement weather as a major part of each.

Point in case, most anything by Jack London goes down well on a day such as this. To Build a Fire never fails to create that sense of loneliness and solitude, nor do his longer works such as The Call of the WildWhite Fang, and The Sea Wolf. They definitely go well with a cup of something hot (coffee, preferably) and, perhaps, the comforting heat from the snapping and crackling flames in the fireplace. It’s a good feeling to know that my collection of Jack London tales—Tales of the North—sits ready for days such as this. I believe I’ll cut this post short and pay a visit to the world of Jack London. May your afternoon and evening be as good…CortlandWriter

Cover of "Call of The Wild, White Fang (B...
Cover via Amazon

Winter storms & hibernation…

christmas card
christmas card (Photo credit: Stephen Rees)

It’s a dark, rainy, dreary morning here in northern Illinois, and a winter storm warning hangs over us for later today and all through the coming night. This driving rain is supposed to change to snow later on, and perhaps we’ll have our first measurable bit of snow since last March. Unbelievable as that may be to fathom, it’s a fact. Normally, we northern Illinoisans have had to deal with snow and ice in November. The past couple of years, something has been out of kilter in regards to the norm. Global warming? I don’t really care to go there, but I do have my thoughts and opinions about that topic. Perhaps another time, another post.

Quite frankly, I am ready for a blast of winter, although the wife will be traveling home from work this evening during the period of time that things are supposed to get really treacherous. Before she left a short time ago, she had the keen foresight to pack an overnight bag, just in case she’s forced to stay with friends who live close to her work. As I understand it, the weather is supposed to be much worse out here than where she works, some fifty miles away.

As the rain pelts against my window, nearly obscuring my normal vista out over the large barren fields to the east, and the water tower standing sentinel alongside the railroad tracks a few hundred yards from where I write this, I feel good to be inside and with no place I have to go today, other than a quick trip to the post office to mail a couple of letters.

Tomorrow is a different story, but today is one for hibernating here and getting some much-needed writing accomplished. It’s time, I think, to pull the novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo last month out of its “holding tank” and get busy revising, editing, smoothing out, polishing, and all things necessary for the next stage toward publication.

I’m in the right frame of mind to do just that. The place is decorated, the annual family Christmas letter has been mailed, and  the shopping is complete. Now, a coffee refill is in order, and then I shall open that “holding tank” and let the manuscript breathe and take on some kind of life. It’s all good…CortlandWriter

Winter Storm Warning (74)
Winter Storm Warning (74) (Photo credit: tommaync)

The Effects of Weather on My Writing “Mood”

A great day to write!

I seem to write about this topic frequently in my blogs, and I suppose it’s because I am one of those who is heavily influenced by different kinds of weather. On those winter days, when the sun wastes no time in rising brightly and staying with us the whole day, I am less motivated to sit inside at my writing desk and focus on my current writing project(s). Instead, I’ll take the gloom and drear of a cloudless, sunless day, with some kind of precipitation thrown in for good measure.

For whatever reason, I have always been more productive–in school as a kid or, later, as a classroom teacher–and now in my retirement as a writer when the weather has been quite miserable. The outside atmosphere doesn’t really cause me to write only about sad and desolate things, but I simply feel more inspired to get into the art of writing when the day is devoid of blue skies and puffy white, lazy clouds.

Now, I think I’ll enjoy the remainder of this gray, chilly day and get some writing accomplished!

No Sun Up in the Sky…

The Morning Gray

A Crystal clear October day "up there" in Michigan

For some reason, I was up way too early this morning–before 6:00–and saw that it had been raining through the night and into the “wee” hours. And as I got the coffee going, I had a feeling of relief, as strange as it may seem, that we weren’t going to be faced with another one of those sunshine-filled mornings where it’s almost too bright to open up the blinds on our sliding doors facing east! I know, I’ve been expounding upon the string of glorious October days we’ve been blessed with, but there comes a time, I think, when a nice gray, rainy day is called for. Consider me a weird one for thinking this, but I do love a rainy day every now and then. 

An Inside Job

And as I write this, the sky is very much devoid of that wonderful azure blue of recent days; instead, a light gray without a hint of sun hangs overhead. Much like the snowstorms that are right around the corner, there always is a clearing once the storm has passed, beginning another cycle of sunshine and clear skies as far as the eye can see. Even if today eventually gives way to more sunshine and blue skies, it is a good one for accomplishing many things–INSIDE–and, perhaps, some much-overdue and neglected writing. The mundane duties of running to the bank, the store, Sam’s Club, and the gas station will not deter my efforts in getting the “Inside” stuff taken care of today! 

Tramp on, fellow travelers, down the road to somewhere…MLA