This morning, icy wind, white-blue skies, everything so crisp as if to break off, a train cut in front of me on my walk to school. The draft blew my scarf from my face. The mud on the hill was frozen and brown. Graffiti sprawled across the cars.
The thing I thought was: Remember this.
Next year, when you are in California or wherever you are, without fall, without deciduous trees, without temper, without walking distance, without a clock tower whose chime can be heard all over town, without town...remember what it was like.
What you are writing is set in this world, so remember it.
A terrible book on writing (books on writing books are rarely good) once told me to: get in the season of what one is writing. Or something like that. Wear snow pants and a ski mask if you're writing a story set in winter, and it's summer outside. Or California.
A better teacher said he wrote about where he had been, not where he was now.
There's something about distance.
I didn't even see the train coming, firmly meshed in my i-pod, playing "Jamaica Inn" again (I wake up to find the pirates have come). Then there was the clanging. Then there was the blue engine.
I waited for it, then it came.