Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Gemini Syndrome

Maybe it’s because I’m a Gemini (sign of the Twins). Or maybe every writer feels this way – or every person! – but I often feel that I’m living two lives. One is the life everyone sees, the other is the life that goes on in my head, and that comes out in my writing. (I certainly wouldn’t want it lurking inside my brain making me crazy.) The two lives are not entirely separate. Things that happen in my real life tend to make their way into my writing. And when my writing thoughts take over, I can become alarmingly spacey in my real life. I’m the same person, of course. It’s just that I’m living two parallel lives. Call it the Gemini Syndrome.

I also live two lives geographically. Mostly I live in Alaska. But we also own land in Hawaii, so we spend some time there every year working on our place. I’m in Hawaii now, as a matter of fact, for just a few more days. Talk about completely different lives! In Hawaii I go around in flip-flops and sarongs, eat papayas and avocadoes. In Alaska it’s snowboots and long underwear, potatoes and salmon. (I indulge in avocadoes from Costco because I can’t live without them.)

When all my worlds collide, it can be very disorienting. While I’ve been in Hawaii, I’ve been working on edits for my next book, which is set in Alaska during the winter. It’s very odd to be sitting in the jungle rewriting lines about the glaciers.
Sometimes I think it can actually cool me down on a hot day, but maybe that’s just my imagination. One of the book’s sexiest scenes takes place in a sauna. Now there’s something we don’t really need here in the tropics. Who knows if that sweat running down my face is from the steamy Hawaiian heat, or the fictional steam in the sauna…or the steam from the sex scene, for that matter?

We’re scheduled to fly back to Alaska a few days before GO WILD releases, so I’ll be able to look out my window at the snow while posting excerpts about it. That should make things easier. Maybe once I’m back, I’ll write a book set in Hawaii, just to really confuse myself. Then again, I’m a Gemini, the split personality of astrological signs, so I ought to be able to handle it. Or at least one of me can.

Do you like reading books that take you to a different place, time of year, world, whatever? Or do you like it when the world outside echoes the world you’re reading about (or writing about)?


Meg Benjamin said...

Not to be too wishy-washy here, but I think it depends on the writer! I'm currently re-reading Alan Gordon's medieval mysteries and loving them because he's so good at recreating the setting without making it seem ponderous. I'm also reading a book set in Mongolia that moves so slowly it's torture to read. They're both exotic, but only one holds my interest.

PG Forte said...

It depends. If the book is set in a less hospitable environment (and yeah, sorry, Alaska in winter qualifies!) then I'd just as soon read it while I'm somewhere warm. As a child I was enamored with books like A Little Princess or My Side of the Mountain, but I never wanted to really be that cold or hungry or to work that hard. Me, Natalie, on the other hand, totally motivated my move to NYC (albeit quite a few years later)and I totally adored reading Don't Stop the Carnival while in vacation in St. Croix.

Kelly Jamieson said...

I do love reading about different locations and have come to realize that what's "exotic" to me isn't necessarily exotic to the author. Someone who lives in the Deep South and writes about that all the time probably doesn't consider it exotic while to me it's so completely foreign...which is why I'm thinking maybe one day I WILL write a story set in my home city, in the winter. That has to be "exotic" to many people!