I often hear writers talking about their favorite time of day to write, their favorite coffee shop in which to write, their favorite office space or chair. But I don’t think I’ve ever heard a writer describe his or her favorite type of weather in which to write. I was thinking about this recently because I was thinking about my favorite types of weather. Fall in the Mid-Atlantic states does that, I suppose. I have three favorite types of weather, all of which are based on experiences in that weather.
First, there is the approaching thunderstorm rolling in across distant fields on a farm. When I was a kid, I would occasionally go to rural Utah to visit some relatives, one of whom lived on just such a farm. At night, when it was clear, it was amazing how many stars you could see. But I especially liked the days when a storm was rolling in. You could see the billowing cumulonimbus clouds across the fields and over the hilltops. The thunder rumbled, it didn’t crash; it was as if the entire sky was groaning. You could catch a flash of lightning here of there. But it was the electric feeling in the atmosphere that made it so thrilling. Before a single drop of rain fell, you could feel it in the air. The breeze would turn into a wind, the pressure would change, you could smell ozone mixed with the manure from the fields. And you could just stand there on the porch and watch the storm roll in.
Second, is a strong rain in a remote place. On a couple of occasions, I went with some cousins up to a private fishing club deep in the Vermont wilderness. The clubhouse had a large, screened-in porch that overlooked the lake. One time, it poured for an entire day. It seemed the perfect time to sit on that porch and read a book. Well, sit I did, but I couldn’t read. The sound of the rain against the lake and leaves was intoxicating. I sat there for hours listening to the steady rain and it was perhaps the most pleasant experience of that entire trip.
Third, and perhaps my favorite weather of all, is when the trade winds are blowing in Hawaii. The last time I was in Hawaii, I had a late flight out of Lihue, but got to the airport early so that I could return my rental car. I had 5 hours or so to kill. Fortunately, Lihue airport has outdoor areas and I found a seat outside and pulled out the Alan Alda book I was reading. For three hours, I sat there with the trade winds blowing–unless you’ve experienced them, they are impossible to describe. Bing Crosby sang about it fairly accurately: “Down where the trade winds play; down where you lose a day…” If there is magic in the world, it exists in the form of the trade winds.
All of this is to provide context for my absolute favorite writing weather. I try to write fiction early. Ideally, I am up before the sun rises, 5am or so. It gives me 2 solid hours of writing while the rest of the family sleeps. I like writing early because I am fresh. If I wait until later in the day, the likelihood of being mental worn out by the day job, or by playing with the kids is greatly increased. Writing early allows me to be fresh and it also provides a win before I even leave the house.
My absolute favorite writing weather is early in the morning, before dawn, when there is a steady rain falling outside. I open the windows in my office and listen to the sound of the rain. It provides the kind of white noise that my noise-cancelling headset normally provides. But on days when it is raining early, I leave the headset in its case. The sound of the keys on the keyboard clicking away mixes with the sound of the rain to create a rare trance-like state in me that I experience in my writing at almost no other time. The room around me fades away. Thoughts of the upcoming day at the office fade away and I see the story unfold around me. Man, I love days like that. Makes me wish it would rain like that every morning–and then stop, just about the time I am leaving the house.
What is your favorite weather for writing?
A steady, unceasing rain, punctuated by the occasional flash of lightning and rumble of thunder. No place to go, no distractions to lure me to do anything but write.