It's sweltering hot in Los Angeles. Every year, about this time, the temperature rises to the triple digits and it just sits there for a week or two. Black outs. A yearly heatwave from two years ago broke me, and I ordered an AC unit for my apartment. So, when September rolls around like a bad cousin, I am grateful for the purchase and the miracles of Amazon Prime.
Last week I visited the Museum of Natural History where they were holding a fun exhibition on mammals. Bones were hung from the ceiling. Ancient antlers, horns, and skulls gleamed behind glass cases. It was a fun trip, not only because I got to see the skeletons of animals long gone, but also because I'm writing a book about, literally, the skeletons of animals long gone.
I'm sitting directly in front my AC unit as I type this. This morning was cooler, so I walked over to the neighborhood coffee shop to work on a scene from Serango where two royals from different countries challenge each other: dueling words, flying threats. And they're literally arguing about bones, although one of them does not know that yet. What a strange book.
Wednesday: "This is the best book I've ever written."— E.R. Warren (@TheRoseWarren) September 1, 2017
Thursday: "Nope, this is definitely the worst book I've ever written."
I have also stopped, 100% writing it on the computer. It's scrawled out, with margin notes and word options, and all my parenthetical shorthand. All things considered—the beginning of a new school year, a crazy workload, this damned heat—the writing is going well. In fact, it almost feels like it's going too well. I think it's the return to paper after almost, basically, two books banged out on a MacBook Air with some handwritten (and then typed) plotting... I think it's possible to burn out on a keyboard. I also think it's possible that I did.
So, here I am, back to the morning typing, writing Serango approximately 90 minutes at a time before I grab my bag and run off to teach Chinese history. Also, I'm teaching now, which you might find amusing. On Wednesdays, I am a student in a seminar on Classical Japan, and all the scheming, plotting, mythology... It's making me miss P+FD. I want to return to that world, even if I was just revising. But, the way Serango is going, I'm afraid that I won't finish the draft and copying by November, and that will give me little precious time to write Kabuki-ish before I start editing and querying next year... The dilemmas continue.
Also, writing feels really lonely right now.
A few weeks ago, I got to visit Ojai, California, which is about two hours outside of Los Angeles. They have wineries, which produce minerally wine, and beautifully scrabby, dry California fields. Mountains. Birds of prey circle the yellow grasses, and I rode a bike around the outskirts of the town, my head a little dizzy with wine. There was a bookstore formed entirely outside from the remains of a sprawling house. Every wall was packed with books, organized by topic. No roof. A fat, slightly spoilt cat slept on book piles near the register.
As the year goes on, I will do my best to remember the birds of prey who didn't give up, who kept circling their fields despite the heat. And, I will try to remember that dozing bookstore cat.