Writing in the rain

Rain is considered a sign of good luck. As rain symbolizes positive things such as change, renewal and life in general, it can be taken as a sign that good things are about to come your way. Rain is the symbolic announcement of a new beginning within a specific area of your life. – Calming Cosmos.

North Georgia has had more than it’s fair share of rain, much of it coming from tropical storm Fred, with more last night and today.

I live in the middle of that yellow stuff. Contrary to the title of this post, I don’t go outside and write in the rain. But when there’s rain outside, I write better. When I write, I always wing it. That is, I rely on inspiration and intuition. Never do this. All the experts say it’s wrong, and that accounts for why I’m not selling as well as James Patterson or Clive Cusler.

Intuition is like drugs. Once you’re addicted to it, that’s all she wrote. As far as I know, there aren’t any 12-step programs that will lead me back to reality. If there were, they wouldn’t help because I don’t want to come back to consual “real life”. I prefer dreams, magic, and everything that isn’t logic. That explains why my novels are in the genres of magical realism, paranormal, and contemporary fantasy.

I was having a bit of a problem with writer’s block (aka, too many sunny days) until Fred (the storm) came through town. I probably wrote more words in my novel in progress in a few days than I had in weeks. Since it’s still raining, I know what happens next in the story–a rare thing for me. (I almost never know.)

There are plenty of writing rules in the books on my shelf and more on the Internet. I ignore most of them. If you want to be Steven King or John Grisham and turn out salable bestsellers several times a year, you should probably write down those rules and follow them like a seaman recruit in navy bootcamp. Otherwise, do what you want without apology because doing what you want is who you are.

Being who you are is, as my grandparents used to say, that cat’s pajamas. There’s nothing better. You may not be either rich or famous–or even 100% happy. But, you’ll be you instead of somebody else. And that’s what matters.


Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of the four-book Florida Folk Magic Series, beginning with “Conjure Woman’s Cat” and ending with “Fate’s Arrows.”

Great books are like high-octane fuel

The Night Watchman: A NovelI began reading Louise Erdrich’s novels with Love Medicine in 1984, thought about what might have been when her 2009 novel The Plague of Doves was a Pulitzer Prize finalist, and thought “about time” when The Night Watchman won the Pulitzer this year. I’m reading it now, a little over halfway through, and I have to say that like all of her books, it’s a parched drinking of high-octane fuel to my system.

I think a lot of writers, and readers as well, react to wonderful writing and important themes this way. Just what happens is difficult to describe. It’s more than inspiratiion, though it is that. What it is is transcendent, a reader recognizing heretofore unknown needs within himself/herself that are met by the book. Or, like a high-performance automobile that’s finally given high-performance fuel. Now body and soul are running on all cylinders.

I remember then in 1953 the subject of terminating Native Amerian Nations of the governmental support that had been mandated to them by treaty. (Andrew Jackson’s nasty spirit was still at work.) Among other things, it was a land steal, not the emancipation the governemtn claimed.  What exactly was at risk? In part, this:

“The sun was low in the sky, casting slant regal light. As they plodded along, the golden radiance intensified until it seemed to emanate from every feature of the land. Trees, brush, snow, hills. She couldn’t stop looking. The road led past frozen sloughs that bristled with scorched reeds. Clutches of red willow burned. The fans and whips of branches glowed, alive. Winter clouds formed patterns against the fierce gray sky. Scales, looped ropes, the bones of fish. The world was tender with significance.”

If you know your history, you know how the battle against termination ends. If you don’t and if you plan to read this book, I won’t tell you here, for that would be a spoiler. Yet, nothing really can spoil this book except (momentarily) blurbs that just don’t work, like this one from the  Boston Globe: “Thrills with luminous empathy.” What the hell does that even mean?

Okay, I think I’ve gotten past reading that blurb now and can absorb the wisdom of this novel. As the Tampa Bay Times wrote, “No one can break your heart and fill it with light quite like Louise Erdrich.” In this story, she’s not only writing about her Chippewa people, but her family. And that comes through the words, I think, and makes then dear and sad with no sentimentality, but raw power.