Let it Snow

We’re having our first snow of the season as I write this. Technically we got a “dusting” about three days ago, but I’m not counting that. It was more of a seasonal equipment check than an actual snow. Today, it’s snowing. I will grant you, it is a tentative, gentle sort of snow. Falling straight down, steady but not aggressive, starting to fill up the hillside behind our house but politely melting off the driveways and road so as not to be too much of a bother.

This will not last.

I mean, the snowfall itself may or may not stick around for long, but this attitude? Very transient. Winter will soon be feeling its oats and this “tentative, gentle sort of snow” will be gone, replaced by the sort more typical of the winters here. It will fall hard and heavy. It will pile up. It will swirl and rise into drifts, millions of snowflakes gathered in one place to talk smack about me and my wimpy shovel. In collusion with the wind, it will snow sideways just to show us it can. It will not melt of its own free will unless certain very specific conditions are met. I will have to shovel down to bare asphalt to give the sun a chance to work, on the days when there is sun. You’ll see it occasionally, but most of the time? Out of here. On vacation. Not my season bub, you’re on your own.

Which is perfectly all right. I’ve come to appreciate winters here in a way I never did when I was down South. Down there, they were simply the pause between heats. Here, winters are decidedly their own thing. Here, I remember that spring and summer and fall exist, too, and have their own stories to tell. Until then, winter and I understand each other—think snow tires—and will get along just fine.

In other news, I’ve joined a local writer’s group, or at least we’re trying each other out for now. They specialize in flash fiction, which is new to me, or rather not new in that I’ve done it before, but new in the sense of concentrating on it within group. Frankly, I’d always regarded flash fiction as something between a sonnet and a parlor trick. Here’s it’s everything from thinly-veiled personal experience to vast sagas told in 500 word scenes. I’m going to stick to my own understanding for now, which means I have to tell a complete story in 500 words. Which makes it more like a sonnet and a good parlor trick—both rather hard to pull off successfully. We’ll see how it goes.

 

Quick Story Time Reminder: “Beach Bum and the Drowned Girl” goes away on Wednesday. I haven’t yet decided what replaces it.

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“Typical”

In these divisive times, most people of whatever political bent do tend to agree on one thing—other people’s dreams aren’t that interesting. Proper dreams are full 3D VR experiences, complete with touch, smell, sound, color, emotion, the full range of human sensory experience. Telling the dream loses that, unless you’re a good enough writer/storyteller to shore up the gaps, and even then you’re down to something like “I flew from one mountaintop to another! It was amazing!” And the listener nods politely and changes the subject.

So I will tell you about a dream I had and immediately change the subject. Sort of. The dream, in its odd way, was the subject. It was a fairly prosaic dream which I will not embellish. Essentially, there was a writer’s group I was part of and we were looking for a place to meet. We eventually found a venue where dozens, if not hundreds of writers were already meeting, so we joined in. There was an invited Guest Speaker. I was listening to what he had to say, or trying to, because every other person in the room immediately broke up into small, intimate groups of five or six and started discussing their latest works. One woman was even narrating her most recent story via interpretive dance and method acting. No one was listening to the speaker except me, and I just thought, “Well, that was rude.”

Once awake again, I revised that comment to one word­­—“typical.”

What I was seeing in the dream was an overt example of writerly ego out of control. Never mind you. What about me? It’s sometimes called Writer’s Arrogance (WA) and it’s not always a bad thing. Sometimes it’s essential. Especially in the white heat of creation, where you must believe, to the bottom of your soul, that you’re making something worth another person’s time to read. Not to mention that it takes a great deal of self-confidence to face down the other writerly emotion, Crippling Doubt (CD). Which is likewise not always a bad thing, especially when it comes time to revise. There CD has to edge out WA so you can take a good hard jaundiced look at what you’ve written, and pinpoint the flaws so you can fix them. However, CD cannot be allowed to beat WA during the creation process, or nothing gets written. There’s a balance, or should be if this thing is going to work.

The dream was an example of WA run amuck. No one in the dream was capable of listening to anyone except themselves. I’ll give the Guest Speaker a pass because he had been brought there specifically to talk about his work. Only no one except the “I” of the dream was listening. Hmmm. According to several psychological theories, everyone in a dream is just a reflection of the dreamer. All those aspects of me, not listening? Then again, if the Speaker was just me talking, maybe I wouldn’t listen either.

There could be a lesson there, or not. I don’t pretend to know. Maybe I should listen more and talk less. Or at least not be so rude about it. It’s a thought.