Writing Outdoors

The last day of summer. Cold weather will be setting in sometime soon, but not yet. Today it was in the low seventies and sunny with a gusty breeze. I sat at the little tray table on my balcony and wrote in my journal. I love to write outdoors. Except when the weather was too crummy–too hot one stifling day in Jun, too wet a couple of days in September I wrote outdoors every single day all summer. I also wrote outdoors almost every day during spring and plan to continue writing on my balcony all through fall and even in winter, weather permitting.

View from my balcony, but only if I’m standing. Days like this can be very mild.

My balcony is on the second floor of my apartment building, it has two walls and a third-floor balcony for a ceiling, so I’m protected from the weather unless it’s raining hard or if there’s a too-stiff breeze.

I have pleasant company on my veranda–fifteen plants in their containers. That would be an awful lot for a small balcony if it weren’t for a spiral wrought iron stand that holds three pots, two railing containers, and a small table that hold four fuchsia cuttings in four-inch pots.

Two of my favorite balcony companions. The lawn where they coyote roams.

Besides my botanical friends, I have views of sky, clouds, trees, and Mt. Rainier. Down below is a swath of lawn, bordered on the far side with a blackberry patch and plants I can’t identify.

I have visitors. Bunnies play on the lawn. A coyote sometimes tiptoes by in broad daylight. Butterflies flit around the blackberry patch. The “Blue Flash,” a.k.a. Steller’s jay flies front tree to tree. A snobbish little hummingbird adores my hosta’s blossoms, tolerates my petunias, and snubs my million bells. One time a white cabbage butterfly flew into my balcony space and sat on a hosta leaf long enough for me to take its picture.

Cabbage butterfly on a hosta leaf.

Human neighbors also turn up on the lawn from time to time. My favorites are a guy named Bailey and his yellow dog. Sometimes the family cat follows along. Bailey runs a little robocar for his dog to chase.

I recond all these antics.

My balcony isn’t the only place I write outdoors. I’ve written at sidewalk tables at Starbucks. On the terrace of the Student Union Building at my old university. The campus is are like a park. My purse always contains a little notebook, just in case I’m somewhere interesting, or boring (bus stop) where I can pass the time while writing. When I had a car it contained a car notebook. I used to sit and write and listen to music during my lunch break at work.

Gig Harbor, Washington, USA. Another setting for my outdoor writing.

Other than it being a pleasant way to spend time, why do I do it? I’ve never written anything sensible while outdoors. I’m too busy describing what I see–trees, sky, mountains, birds, bugs, passersby. My feelings of bliss at being out in the fresh air go in my notebook. Sometimes I fantasize about writing a From My Balcony version of Pilgrim at Tinker’s Creek, but I’m not sure my observations are acute enough, detailed enough, interesting enough for anyone to want to publish them. Most of the things I watch I can’t identify except as, “tree,” “bird,” “bug.” Once I look them up, they could add color to my fiction. Thus far, the only idea I’ve had during my outdoor writing sessions is for a flash fiction story about a woman on her balcony. Started, but not finished. Maybe soon. Maybe never. I do have a market in mind for it when, not if, I finish it.

“They,” whoever they are, say that a daily writing habit is important for writers. It doesn’t matter what you write, as long as you write. Most days I have that habit, but none of it has translated to either of my novels. Oh, well, you never know when it might. 

The last few weeks I’ve been might laggard about writing little essays for my blog. Feeling wonky in both mind and body. Not wanting to whine in public about my wonky sensations. At last! Results from writing outdoors–this blog post. Bonus, I feel a lot less wonky.

On my balcony, with a hot beverage, on a chilly day. I knit myself a pair of fingerless gloves so I can keep on writing on my balcony even when the weather’s a bit on the cool side.

Quote: Blaise Pascal & a Little More

Pascal, 1623 – 1662 was a French mathematician, philosopher, physicist, inventor, writer, and a Catholic theologian

The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing.

Hearts want what they want. Both characters in my novel, A Home for an Exile’s Heart, former fighter pilot Cameron Quinn and Latvian refugee, Līvija Galiņa have unruly hearts which are impervious to reason.

In 1944 war widow Līvija and her family, unwilling to live under a brutal tyranny, escape from Latvia ahead of the invading Soviet army. After six years of drifting through Europe, like flotsam on the tides of history Līvija washes ashore in Seattle, Washington, USA.

Līvija has been living in Seattle for nearly a year when on the snowy day after Thanksgiving she is nearly run down by an out-of-control car that skids on an icy street and jumps the curb. Her neighbor, dashing fighter pilot, Cameron Quinn pushes her out of the way of the oncoming vehicle, saving her life.

Their attraction is immediate.

To read their story you can go to Kindle Vella. I’ve published only twenty-two chapters so far. If there’s sufficient interest, I’ll publish the rest of the chapters. The first few “episodes” are free.