Hey, it’s Sarah Graves, here, and it’s that time, again: I’m in the middle of writing a book, and Maine is in the middle of trying to freeze and/or depress me to death. Because first of all, I don’t know about you, but I find beginnings and endings to be the easy (relatively easy, that is; easier than being drawn and quartered, for instance) parts of books I’m writing, and the middles — in which further development must jog along hand in hand with well-maintained suspense, among other things — the difficult portion. When I’m writing the middle of something, keeping a good attitude is crucial, because at this point attitude is about all I’ve got going for me.
Not that the book isn’t okay, or maybe better than; I wouldn’t know. It’s just that in the middle of writing it, I don’t believe that it is. It could be the Great American Novel, and I’d still think it was pond slime; it’s just the way I am at this point in production.
Meanwhile, Maine’s trying to kill me, too. It’s cold, it’s dark, it’s way too quiet, and have I mentioned that it’s cold, yet? We’re getting a break so far this year from zillions of feet of snow, possibly because I bought a new snow shovel in autumn and stood it on the porch; if I’d bought a plow blade for the pickup truck, I could probably have accelerated global warming.
In short, these are the times that try this Maine writer’s soul, and I suspect I’m not the only one. In fact, you too might be a Maine Writer in Winter if —
1)Your two best friends are named Mr. Coffee and Mr. Heater.
2) You can deduct fingerless gloves as ‘office equipment.’
3) You keep Prozac pills in a little glass bowl on your desk, like M&Ms.
4) The M&Ms work better.
5) You’ve covered the whole ceiling of your office in light bulbs that promise to deliver fake daylight.
6) Those lightbulbs are lying jerks, too.
7) The sun going supernova sounds like a good idea to you. It might not last long but at least it’ll be warm and bright.
8) When your neighbor says she’s going to Florida for the rest of the winter you say that’s nice, carefully not bursting into tears. (I don’t know where that sunny smiley came from, but I’ll take it.)
9) You don’t care how the dog smells as long as he’s warm and will lie on your feet. Ditto for your spouse (if you still have one considering the mood you’ve been in).
10) You’ve hidden all sharp objects and firearms from yourself in case some cheerful fool asks, “So! How’s the writing going?”
I know, spring is coming. By that time I’ll probably be a raddled hag with stringy hair, wild eyes, and fingernails like Howard Hughes’. As for the book, the words ‘the end’ are near, as well. Winter will be done, and so will this manuscript.
And the truth is, even as crazy-making as I’m finding them right now — the long quiet days, the crystalline nights, the hours and hours spent in that other world I’m building — I’ll miss them both.
You might, too, if you’re a Maine Crime Writer in Winter.