Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Thursday 1 August 2013

Come Rain or Shine

Electrical storm over Kent last weekend

It’s hot. It’s been hot a lot recently. It makes a nice change from the torrential rain we had right before it started getting hot, and from the enormous electrical storm we had at the weekend.

This is England and this is what summer can be like here. When I lived in Scotland we used to say of the weather, “It’s raining or it’s just about to.”

I’ve spent quite a lot of the past few weeks sitting in my chair in a pool of sweat. You can’t stop working just because it’s hot... or, for that matter because it's cold, or because the rain’s falling so hard on the conservatory roof that you can’t hear yourself think.

Just about anything can have an effect on the creative mind, but if we waited for the spirit to move, or if we waited for the perfect writing conditions many of us would wait forever, and that doesn’t get the baby a new bonnet, now, does it? Of course it doesn’t.

The husband has two rooms in the house. He has his office, and he has the archive. The archive is a sort of library, and it’s in one of the basements. It’s a lovely room, because, although it’s below ground, it does have a window, so it has daylight, but it’s also cool in the summer. If push comes to shove, he can always take a laptop downstairs to work.

Sadly, I’m much more place sensitive than I am sensitive to other things, and the archive is too busy for me; there are too many visual distractions. 

I can sweat it out in the heat, and when it’s cold I can throw a blanket over my legs and put on an extra sweater, or I can wrap myself up in my arctic onesie and feed my wood burning stove and make myself perfectly comfortable. I can even put up with the noise of the rain on that conservatory roof adjacent to the room I generally sit in for two thirds of the year.

I can write when I’m as miserable as sin, typing through my tears, and I can write when I’m sick. Mania’s are a problem, but they’re generally short-lived and I struggle with visual stimuli, but other than that I can pretty much get on with the work when that’s what’s required.

I wonder though about the leakage. I wonder about the influences that states of mind and the weather and my surroundings have on the work. When its hot do all my landscapes suddenly become desiccated? Or is it the opposite, are they suddenly lush and verdant? Does fertility become a theme in the depths of winter? When I’m depressed is my writing darker, tougher and filled with despair or do I look for a respite from my own troubles and write about hope? When I’m sick do my characters prosper? When I’m happy does everyone survive to the end of the story?

Unlike many writers, I don’t do a whole lot of forward planning. What comes before always informs what comes afterwards, and I do a great deal of thinking on my feet, so my mood today could inform my ideas and, potentially, change the tack of a story, entirely.

I like that about the way that I work, and I wouldn’t change it for anything. I like the unpredictability of it. I never know at the beginning of a project, what I’m going to get at the end. For goodness sake, I don’t even know if I’m going to make it to the end. Every day is an adventure, every novel a mystery.

There’s no way for me to trace my way back through a piece of work and decide what mood I was in when I wrote any particular section. There’s no way for me to know whether I was writing on a dull day or a bright one. Maybe if I could work it out, a little of the magic would disappear. Maybe to look at it too closely would be to break it a little bit, and that would never do.

It’s hot today, but tomorrow it might well rain. I wonder what effect that’ll have on the work. I don’t honestly  know, but I’m pretty sure that it will have some effect, because the heat and the rain will have an effect on me, on my mood and the way my mind works, and I’m not an automaton, I’m a person. 

Everything affects me, so everything affects the work. It’s a scary thought, but a reassuring one, too, in its way.

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