The next time you hear, “Whatever…”

The term, “Whatever…” is said to be among the most irritating comebacks in the language, lazily connoting complete indifference to every possible outcome  and eventuality on the planet.

It means something different to me. Christmas day the heavens gifted us with freezing rain for the duration. It came down for a good while, leaving accumulations of ice in its wake. For those of you who don’t have ice storms, consider yourselves blessed. Snow, you shovel. Ice, you wait for it to melt, hoping it doesn’t take down too many power lines first.

You can’t go anywhere in an ice storm, and if you must go outside (say to feed your horses every stinkin’  twelve hours no matter what), then you will be both frozen and soaked. But it’s good writing weather. The urge to cozy up to any heat source, including a lap top, is irresistible. A day like that brings to mind bleak moors, long lonely afternoons, mind-numbing boredom, cuddling-up-on-a-bleak-day sex, all kinds of scenes and weather driven plot twists. Hurray for freezing rainy days.

I keep a journal, and a few months ago, I got up to a fall-is-coming day. Low humidity, temperatures in the high seventies, glorious, perky weather that fills the body with joy. And that is good writing weather too, for the energy it imparts, the restless glee, the churning mental enthusiasm for life itself. Weather like that brings to mind outdoor sex, picnics, reading in tree houses, and the innocent joie de vivre of many a character at the beginning of many a romance.

A few months before that, I got up on a sultry, still, mid-summer morning. The mercury was headed past 100, it was so hot the bugs didn’t make a sound. The sky was white with humidity, and all I wanted to do was write about parched throats, summer light, and the ease of moving around at night in high summer. That was good writing weather too. In other words, it’s all good writing weather, good painting weather, good child rearing weather, good weather for whatever your creative process is.

The trick for me is to take whatever comes my way—whatever—and smack it off my bat in a productive, meaningful direction. Weather, people, cases at work, flat tires, new dishes, long road trips, whatever life tosses at me, it’s all a gift for the purpose of inspiring my writing, or my legal strategies, or my ability to love my family and friends honorably. Life sucks sometimes, and there are experiences I haven’t found any inspiration from yet, at least that I know of. But determination counts for a lot too, and waking up each day expecting to be given some nuggets of inspiration by the weather, the shopping list, the telemarketer, means I am more likely to find inspiration. Which means I am more likely to look hard for it tomorrow.

This is not a skill I was born with, mind. It’s a product of maturation, not something I consciously set out to work on. There are other names for it besides determination, like ingenuity, optimism, cleverness, resourcefulness. I don’t know about all that, I just know that after years of watching the sky, I’ve learned that it’s all good writing weather if you give it the chance to be.

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2 comments on “The next time you hear, “Whatever…”

  1. Dear Ms Burrowes, I just want to commend you on a lovely book and thank you for the pleasant hours I’ve whiled away with your delightful characters.
    I thoroughly enjoy your writing “voice” and look forward to the next stories.
    I’m curious though. In your bio you are referred to simultaneously as a novice writer and a prolific, award winning one. I realize it’s probably due to copyright laws from one publisher to another but I’d very much like to read some of your other books but don’t know how to find the “other” you. Can you enlighten me?
    By the way, I too am an unabashed horsegirl….lately having discovered the joys of carriage and sleigh driving, which in some ways is even more fun than riding – especially with a team!!!!
    Looking forward to hearing from you
    Clare Brett

    Ps tried to email but got ” this does not appear to be a valid email address”

  2. Greetings, Clare,
    I will try emailing myself at [email protected] and see if I’m valid. I’d love to try driving because it’s my back that can’t sit the trot any more, at least not on a big old warmblood. I know driving take a strong core, but at least there’s the hope of some suspension between my tailbone and the bumps.

    With respect to my being both prolific and a debut author… many people have noted the contradiction, and the explanation goes like so: “The Heir” is my first novel, to be followed in June by “The Solider” (Devlin’s story) and in November by “The Virtuoso,” *Valentine’s story, of course). The we start on the sisters’ stories with “Lady Sophie’s Christmas Wish.”

    I use a pen name because my day job involves representing children in abuse and neglect legal proceedings, and I want to avoid the situation where a client’s parents get hold of my books and raise a ruckus because what I write could be considered salacious.

    That said, I have no other novels published under any other name, BUT I do have a couple dozen completed manuscripts, including a trilogy that prequels “The Heir,” et al. I hope to see those in print one fine day, but the label “prolific” comes about as a function of that personal slush pile.

    The confusion is tiresome and I do apologize for it. I wil try emailing you some excerpts off loop, and maybe my email will be recognized by your server then.