It's been unbearably hot in my stretch of the middle for the past week. I find it difficult to write when the temperatures soar into the nineties. Somehow my mind just doesn't engage with the words floating somewhere within. Images, yes, and feelings. I can sit in the garden and let my mind wander, watch the bees work a flower, and contemplate the sex lives of squash blossoms. Good thing romance isn't my genre! Could I come up with something worth writing? Forget it. I can barely concentrate enough to take notes.
Now reading is another matter. I find myself doing more of that, in any spot offering some shade, and always with a glass of iced lemon water. Summertime and a book just seem to go together for me - perhaps a habit from childhood? It's a good thing, too, because my stack of "must-reads" is towering, even though I use a first-fifty rule when perusing books for reviews and acquisitions.
What does "first-fifty" mean exactly? Simply that the book must engage my interest in that many pages, or I don't read the rest of it. That's actually quite generous. I know reviewers and acquisition editors who expect rapture in the first ten pages or the book is out the window. I'm not that difficult, but you do have to get my attention by the magic 5-0.
Today I discarded several books for common errors. One adult novel simply introduced too many characters not yet relevant to the plot too early in the story. It confused me, and it wasn't the heat. The story just didn't evolve in a graceful and understandable way. It didn't bode well for the rest of the book.
I gave up on a middle grade chapter book because the names of the main characters were too similar. The protagonists were twins who were polar opposites but the names were so much alike, I couldn't keep straight which child was doing what. Let's pretend they were called Kee and Koo with Kee acting perpetually bad and Koo ever the angelic one. Would you root for Kee or Koo? It would have been better to name the children Ay and Zee with their shenanigans covering the spectrum from A-Z. That would have been slightly more clever and certainly easier to remember. I might have gotten past the 50-page mark. But, no. I got to about page 30 and had another tall glass of lemon water before hopping to the next book.
What about you, readers? Does the heat (or any kind of weather) influence your writing abilities? How about reading? Do you find nature inspires your creativity? Do you like lemonade? What about squash blossoms? How's the weather where you are, and how do you stay on task with summer in full swing?
Dani Greer is founding member of this blog. She spends her summer days with new writing and editing projects, waters acres of gardens, and often can be seen knitting yet another pair of socks. Visit her at News From Nowhere, Facebook, and Twitter.