Welp, it’s been more than a minute, hasn’t it? I hope you’re well and reading and writing, if that’s your bag, this “Wet Winter.” Of all the wonderfully descriptive passages I’ve read in so much prose and poetry set in the Rust Belt over these four years of blogging, “Wet Winter” is perhaps the most succinctly and perfectly apt (like the opposite of this very sentence). I don’t know if he coined it, but I’m thanking author Mark Winegardner in his 2001, Cleveland-set novel, Crooked River Burning. As in… there’s Winter, and then there’s Wet Winter. I mean, just because the crocuses are popping up, doesn’t mean we’re not due for another few feet of snow.

Here in Maryland, we’re warmer but mighty wet–a good excuse to stay in and read, research, or write, though it doesn’t always work. I am close to finishing a very exploratory first draft of a new novel manuscript I’m excited about. And because I don’t like to jinx things too much, I’ll just say it’s a dual timeline historical set partly in Northeastern Ohio about the healing power of song.

“Write to your passions” is advice that gets tossed out a lot, but I’m not sure I always followed it. I am, wholeheartedly, with this project (and it certainly does make the research and writing easier!). And, Emily, I feel open to the possibilities…

The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.

Emily Dickinson

This quote jumped out at me today. Because “the ecstatic experience” has various meanings and can allude to experiences of the supernatural–like visions. And isn’t that what we hope to impart in our writing? That we might be guided by “the muse” or inspired by visions so that our readers, eventually, can see what we see? Until the bots figure out how we can get readers to simply read our minds, our creative vision must be put down in words.

Because I’ve been writing about song, I realize my words must also sing.

To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it’s about, but the inner music the words make.

Truman Capote

What are you writing and reading, this “Wet Winter?” Do you have any recommendations for novels inspired by song? (I’m currently reading Caitlin Horrocks’ The Vexations about French composer Erik Satie.) Any poetry to share that just sings?

Looking for Rust Belt author interviews, book reviews, and more? Check out my categories above. What’s your favorite writing advice? Comment below or on my FB page. And I hope you’ll follow me here, if you don’t already, so you never miss a (quite infrequent) post. Thanks! ~Rebecca

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34 thoughts on “Writerly advice…for “Wet Winter”

  1. I hope you get some sunshine in the midst of all the soggy days! Best wishes with the new story. I’m sure I’d love the history aspect of it.

    I’m always in a quandary about “passions.” Is that what I feel? Or what I think I should feel? Do I understand passion at all? Maybe not.

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    1. So very soggy! We only hope that a little rain waits until mid-summer when my husband’s veggie garden needs it.

      Thank you–I’ve had fun researching this historical. (It helps that the U.S. timeline is Ohio in the 80s, which I’m pretty familiar with; Finland’s Winter War less so.)

      I hear you: “passions” is pretty loaded. And I do realize mine can be fleeting, so I’m trying to wrap up this draft before another idea turns my head. From the outside, I’d say your passion for family history seems pretty evident–but that’s not for me to say! Looking forward to reading your latest, Eilene!

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  2. I’m happy to hear that you are almost finished w/ your rough draft! I’m in the middle of an online course so much of my energy has been placed there. But I do get a chance to plod along on the ‘ol draft myself when time allows it. I’ve decided to be okay with picking at it because I am making progress, it’s just slow.

    I really can’t think of any books based on a song, but you might want to check out this site: http://blog.largeheartedboy.com/

    Writers create music playlists for their novels. I definitely want to do one for mine. It’s bookmarked so I can’t offer anything more than the recommendation. Enjoy ❤

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    1. I’m excited about your draft, too! Slow progress is progress–it just might be the right speed for the book. I find I have to have everything kinda mapped out in my head before I start on a scene (and then it often changes in the writing)–but a blank page and blank head are too scary!

      Your course sounds like it must be going well! One of the many online opportunities that’s opened up with covid? The only perk!

      What a fantastic idea that site is! I’d never heard of it before–thank you. That is so cool!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ah…wet winter. You know I’m feeling it! Love the quotes and the whiff of your project. I have no suggestions, but I am excited to experience a story about the “healing power of song.” Oh my- I’m already imagining my tears. I, too, am falling in love with your premise. I was thinking about your work and wondering if you’ve read Conroy, especially Lords of Discipline? When you want a coming-of-age, it’s incredible.

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  4. Oh, I know a good CLE wet winter! As long as you don’t have to endure a snowy Easter, you’ll make it through. I hope your spring is nice!

    I can’t tell you what that means that you’re already anticipating tears from my poorly-strung words! I hope they come close to measuring up and that you hear a story and a soundtrack in your head as you read–that’s my goal. Can’t wait to switch our manuscripts!

    I don’t know how it is that I’ve never read Pat Conroy. Will put it on my list–thank you! Could I just clone myself already so I can tackle the TBR with gusto!?

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    1. I don’t know Satie’s music, so now that I know something of his life, I have some music to appreciate!

      That is so exciting about your novel draft. Congrats! Huge accomplishment! I look forward to hearing more about it on your blog! 3 years doesn’t sound overly long. My draft will be approaching that. Some writers write very quick “skeleton” first drafts and then fill in on revision. I’m more apt to take my time and overwrite and then pare on revisions. Good stuff can’t be rushed!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am the other way round – I know his music, I need to read about him 😉 Thank you, I will write about my book on my blog some time but I’m going to query some agents first and see what happens.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Shelley! I will be so happy when I get this first draft of my novel out–research makes it a little slow-going. Of course, that’s just the beginning of a long revision project, but I hope it reaches readers at some point! I do try to remember to enjoy the process, though I sometimes get anxious for that finish line.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great to hear about your new project–and great hear of your investment in it. That is a word that I am coming to love: investment. When you really feel that you are drawing from something deep within you, pulling it out of you and putting it into your work. It’s great when you really feel that connection. Like this thing is both really a part of you and also is gaining a life of its own — the two processes two sides of the same mutually flowing process.

    The quote from Ms. Emily really jumped out at me. I am currently re-reading Stephen Batchlor’s Living With The Devil for the umpteenth time and finding that it continues to inspire and ground me. I had just copied this quote out in my journal:

    “A devil’s circle blinds us to those cracks in the world through which we could step out of its orbit onto a path.”

    And my comment here is apparently turning into a blogpost of its own…..(I’ll let you know…)

    So I will simply say, for now, thanks for the inspiration and adding momentum to my already spinning wheels…..

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    1. “Mutually flowing process”–Now, I like that! And I see that in your photography and poetry, like your images flow into you and out in your poetry–or maybe I’m imagining that. That’s one reason I think having multiple art outlets is so important. For me, lately, it’s singing and writing.

      I don’t know Living With the Devil, but it sounds fascinating. And, yes, I see your creative wheels spinning and look forward to more along these lines.

      Thanks for stopping by. Your momentum feeds mine!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, I certainly hope you’re not imagining that…. 😉

        And Yes–multiple outlets are what keep me from feel too blocked in any one mode or pursuit. For me it is poetry, photography and music. I feel like the three streams are getting closer to flowing into and becoming the same river. Lazy streams. Lazy river. They take their sweet time and I am drifting in three boats…..

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I knew nothing about Satie before reading the novel–the author did a lot of research–and almost nothing about Montmartre in the days when he lived and worked there. Fascinating. And I’m always looking for ways to capture music in writing. I hope you enjoy it!

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      1. Satie has long been one of my faves. Probably a big reason I got into ambient music and neo-classical/minimalism. There is something very rejuvenating for me in music that simplifies things rather than complicates them. I think we’ve had enough complication for a few billion life-times. Music has been a much-needed refuge from the world of words for me this last year.

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