I’m not going to get too excited about this. Yet. There’s too much mystery that leaves it still in the realm of rumordom. Even articles like this feel like something that’s too good to be true at this point. There could be other explanations for the photo of Anthony Hopkins and Lesley Nichol together…by her dressing room…with him in what looks intriguingly like a costume…though it’s impossible not to believe just a little. If it happens, it will be the best TV thing ever.

Anthony Hopkins on Downton Abbey….

The wish for that has been in the back of my mind ever since I fell in love with the series. A casting dream come true.

The term “snowed in” is technically correct, considering the persistent coating of white blanketing what I can see of my surroundings through windows. Snow, however, can provide some traction, under some circumstance. It’s the ice under the snow that’s dragged normal life to a standstill.

Ice storm is a weather catch phrase that strikes fear into the hearts of those who know to look beneath the sparkling beauty of dangling icicles and frozen over tree branches. What lies beneath the superficial wonderland one can’t help but pause over to enjoy for the eye feast buffet is danger from several angles.

The biggest worry is snapping tree branches, or in worst case scenarios snapping whole trees, that in turn cause snapping power lines or snapping whole poles. Sometimes the weather remains fairly warm during and after an ice storm due to vagaries of the weather system at large. That kind of ice storm is mostly inconvenient.  Stuff like losing anything you were foolish enough to stock the fridge and freezer with (melted icecream for dinner, anyone?), the loss of TVability, Kindle withdrawal, and a total disconnect from that 21st century essential…the smart phone.

It’s when it’s very cold and the power goes out that true danger potential becomes something to worry about until the great thaw arrives. Temperatures in the teens and single digits, often accompanied by subzero wind chills, not only ramp up the risks of power failure complications, but also keep the ice on roads like slippery, slidery glass. Once rain has frozen solid, with or without an insulating layer of snow, it’s there for the duration. Where it melts in the sun even with low, low temps, the residual moisture refreezes into ever more dangerous black ice.

When you’re caring for an elderly parent, it’s impossible not to worry about all the what ifs being surrounded by a beautiful, treacherous iceland outside brings to mind. The stresses of being frozen in place move beyond trying to figure out the timing for your next grocery  expedition or remembering to charge those all important devices. Things like will an ambulance be able to come, if you need it? If it does, will it take you too, since you can’t drive to meet it, and then how will you get the car to where you end up? What if you run out of a crucial medicine, though you’re sure you got it all before the winter storm turned the world into a Doctor Zhivago landscape, sans sleighs and romantic interludes in icebound rooms? What if, what if, what if…until you just try to let it go. Time to curl up under a blanket with a supply of chocolate, listen to the new band you’ve just fallen in love with (San Fermin, at the moment), and turn your what iffing machine to writing.

The kind of quiet when you’re living under a blanket of snow is unique. Little traffic. Little hubub of normal life. That certain kind of silence that invites introspection also invites a writer to plot.

As I’ve just finished my new fantasy novella, my thoughts turn to what’s next. I’m ready for a genre switch. Maybe a bit of hard SF would be a good mental palate cleanser. That possibility has led me to ponder the intriguing possibilities of string theory. I found that involves too much research for a snow bound interlude, which frees my brain to move on to meta materials, graphene, and holographic projectors…not necessarily in that order. And not necessarily all in the same story.

It’s started snowing again. Freezing rain expected later. Again.

If this keeps up, expect me to start babbling about a new story. One about weather machines and an entrepreneurial koala who turned a perpetual blizzard into a giant purple snow cone business….

This People Magazine article about Anthony Hopkins’ painter side gives a fascinating look into the prolific actor’s work as an artist. He offers insights and anecdotes about how he came to be interested in painting and some of his inspirations.

As much as I’d love to own one of his paintings, the price is well out of my league. I’ve Googled his art, though. There’s much to see and enjoy that way. I love his use of vibrant color. His work is more sophisticated than another artist I admire, Ken Done, but they share a gift for using shape and pigment to evoke powerful imagery. While I think the more abstract of Hopkins’ pieces are intriguing, it’s the few landscapes I’ve seen that really attract me. Serene, yet supplying a sense of movement to the imagination, they invite the mind to visit the scene depicted.

I hope to view Anthony Hopkins’ work in a gallery someday. I’m certain it would provide a feast for the eyes and a thrill for any fan of this gifted actor, painter, and musician.

This Entertainment Weekly interview with Norman Reedus gives some cool insights into Daryl, and post Beth realities. If you’re into The Walking Dead (I am, of course) and Daryl is your favorite character (as he is mine) it’s a must read.

Writing my previous post less than 48 hours ago, about a novella that would not end, must have jarred something loose. In the wee hours of last night, I was on my laptop for something else. While I was sitting there, I thought I’d open the file and see if it would happen.

I read a couple of paragraphs back, letting all the imagery and emotional impact of the words flow through my head, without thinking too much about anything but what had already been written. When I got to the dangling end, wrong words came a couple of times.

Suddenly, I was typing. Fifteen words were all it took to finish the sentence left hanging for days. For some reason I do not understand, it took as long as it took for the right ending to come to me.

I learned a long time ago that if I try to force writing I end up with wrong writing. The right words are in there and when they’re ready they’ll come out the way they need to. I’ve just never had it be half a sentence worth of an ending before.

Usually I hate to see a story end. Partly because I’ve enjoyed the process of writing it. Partly because I really am not crazy about proofreading. This time I’m very glad to have typed “The end”. I even look forward to proofreading it. It will be cool to do the first full readthrough of my story that wouldn’t end, until it was ready to wrap itself up in the best way possible.

This is more a musing on how weird writing can get than anything helpful or insightful to anyone else and probably myself. It’s just that I’m having one of the strangest hitches in writing I’ve ever experienced. Oh, I’ve had all kinds of  glitches, unruly characters, elusive plots, and stubborn passages. Plenty. This time it’s a new twist, an ending that won’t…end.

The bigger picture is a fantasy story that would be novel. I started out  intending to flesh out a cool dream that stuck with me when I woke up. Those are the keepers that make solid backbones for fully realized stories. I can remember the dreams that become plots vividly, even years later. The core stays the dream in pretty complete form, tweaked for clarity, with threads of plot winding out and in and through that core. Sometimes the dream part gets plot built around it, until the story catches up with it.

All that happened with the current dream induced story. It didn’t manage to become a novel, but settled firmly in novellaville. What I thought would be a minor character ran off with the thing and didn’t let go for ten thousand words. Then the dream part kicked in and got its time in the wordage limelight.

I was happy with how it progresses and, after eeking it out over a trying period involving my mom’s health crisis, getting sick myself for a month, having heat and car trouble, had the end in my sights. So I thought. I sat down to finish it. It wouldn’t finish. I gave it some time. It still wouldn’t finish. I wrote some more to really finish it. It. Would. Not. Finish.

After some time my brain had an info dump that stunned me. Without me being conscious of it, that story was tying itself into my other fantasy of that world. Cool and fine with me. I got another whole story plot once it had all settled. I thought that once the part of my brain that was busy with that was freed up, my elusive ending would jump out at me.

Surprise!

Uh, no.

I wrote what I thought was the last sentence. It wasn’t. That was what seems to be half of the last sentence. I have vivid imagery for that last sentence half, but not the exact words that will finish
it the way I want it to be. I thought I had it when a perfect handful of words popped onto my head just as I woke up, but by the time I was fully brainpowered they had slithered away. They weren’t right, apparently. The right ones stick, like the plotworthy dreams.

That’s where I am right now. Ready to proofread, start something new, switch genres, move on. I intend to get hold of those elusive words to go with my imagery, instead of giving in to the temptation to mentally wander too far from this elusive “The end” and leave it hanging indefinitely. Who knows? Maybe they’ll come to me in a dream.

A pop of color to brighten the drab days of winter.
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I believe this is a double Rose of Sharon.
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A cousin in the hibiscus family.
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How different it looks in different light, from varying distances.
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Soon to awaken again, when spring begins to bloom.

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