I love this time of year, when purple and white asters flank our road and the trees put on a glorious show of copper, scarlet, umbers, gold, and that luscious, luminous red like the blush on a peach. Even the sky has a fall-ish look, with great clouds tumbling across the bluest blue. October makes me glad I live in the country, nestled in the woods. It beckons me outside to see the sunshine in the foliage, leaves sweeping the cold air, mushrooms dotting the moist soil under the canopy, and geese stitching the sky and honking overhead.
Beauty, everywhere! Plus apple pies and crisps, baked squash, long-simmered soups, the first fires in the woodstove, wooly sweaters, beds piled high with quilts, and book after book after book, but a special sort of book, the type with a little mystery, magic, romance, humor, and suspense—the kind I want to write.
That’s what I’ve been thinking about lately. I still haven’t committed to a plot for my next project, despite weeks of planning and puttering, brainstorming and researching, taking notes and taking walks, and sitting and staring out the window. But I’ve settled on its atmosphere. I know just how my future novel needs to make my readers feel. Cozy! I blame October with its fiery colors and chilly winds. It’s got me in such a deliciously dreamy state.
This decision doesn’t seem like much, but it’s something—maybe even something important. Perhaps mulling this hoped-for mood will serve me well in this project. After all, though we’re apt to answer the question, “What kind of fiction do you enjoy?” with a genre preference, like fantasy or adventure, in a broader sense, we probably really like certain books because of how they make us feel. Years after finishing a wonderful novel, we might not recall its plot, themes, or characters, but we very well might remember how it affected us emotionally, how it cast its glow over our days, left us wistful and aching. The mood stays with us.
“I want to curl up with a good book,” any avid reader is likely to say. And isn’t that a beautiful expression? As if the book were a crocheted blanket promising warmth or, better yet, a sweet puppy, drowsy child, or sleepy darling. As if the book were somebody the reader loved. That’s precisely the kind of book I hope to write.