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I’ve been working on a novel that begins with a deep freeze.

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(This pic happens to be from Chicago’s awful storm of 2011 and not from the Polar Vortex, but you get the idea. Burial in ice and snow.)

I write outlines, synopses, pages of notes; I write drafts full of characters that have since been discarded. My latest Scrivener file contains 13,000 words. An earlier one: 271,000. Still another: 233,000. Much of that is repeated. Some of it isn’t. Sometimes, I think it’s YA. Other times, it feels more middle grade. Sometimes I think it’s a series, and then my brain starts to shiver.

As I wander through this story, I feel lost as my girl in the snow, fighting her way through wind tunnels of ice chips that bite at her cheeks. And the weather outside matches my fictional wasteland.

Chicago’s experiencing record lows–for the second time this year, a polar vortex is giving me a Monday off with wind chills of 40 below.

My ceiling is gone because my neighbor’s pipes burst during the last low. I’m going to have to move out while cute Russian men replace my floor.

I was making so much progress over the holidays. I felt so close to having a synopsis to share before sickness made my brain fuzz, before the polar vortex squeezed its fist, before my ceiling sogged. The past few weeks have felt like a gauntlet of challenges. I haven’t written much or often, and that’s okay. None of this is normal.

Though it does remind me of Doris Lessing’s wisdom:

If there’s something you’re meant to do, do it now. The conditions are always impossible.

And here’s the thing … When I do write, I thaw. I feel limber and agile and sharp. I have hope for my story, that I and it will find our way out of this mess that we’re in.

And in Saturday’s mail I received a package with my first designed pages for Don’t Touch, and that felt like a blast of summer.

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