It’s a warm day in San Francisco. Days like these, in which San Franciscans normally clad in jeans and fitted jackets and scarves wrapped expertly around their necks are seen wearing shorts and sundresses and flip-flops, are becoming less and less rare here. I saw an article a few weeks ago that detailed some research that showed that California was having more hot and humid days per year than it ever has. I was not surprised. When I moved to SF nearly a decade ago it was a big deal on that one day a year that the temperature soared and un-air-conditioned apartments made sleeping nearly impossible. Since then I’ve noticed that the warm days and nights are coming with more frequency. The article directly connected the increased number of warm, humid days in California to changes in global climate patterns and ocean currents resulting from the warming of the planet.
But I digress.
I just read two books set in San Francisco, written by San Francisco-based writers. One was Andrew Sean Greer’s “The Story of a Marriage,” and the other was Michelle Richmond’s “No One You Know.” I really liked both, for different reasons, but reading two novels set in San Francisco back to back was an unexpectedly strange experience. One reason I read is to escape, and I felt, by the end of the second book, that I had not escaped at all. This was especially weird given that I read the first book while visiting relatives on the East Coast. It’s to the authors’ credit that San Francisco became so inescapable. They both rendered it – though in different time periods – very clearly and very much as I know (and love) it.
I think if I wrote a novel I would set it in San Francisco.
I’ve been thinking of taking a fiction writing workshop. You may know from previous posts that in the past I’ve been more of a nonfiction person. My MFA, in fact, was in nonfiction. But I have not been feeling much like writing the truth (oh, such a loaded phrase) the past couple of years. I’ve been slowly – and by slowly, I mean at a pace many would call excruciatingly painfully, laboriously slow – writing two short stories. I can’t seem to finish either one. I work on one and then the other. Sometimes months will go by in between these writing sessions. So I’m thinking of taking a fiction class. To step it up, speed things up, gain some motivation and to finish my stories.
I’m sure a fiction workshop – or any workshop, really, could do me some good, but. I’m reluctant. I suspect many former MFA students are reluctant to return to the workshop format. I know I was workshopped out by the time I finished my program. All that commentary in a group setting can be as overwhelming as it can be helpful. But my reluctance stems more from my continued attempts to balance new(ish) parenthood with writing.
The question is… can I wake up at 5 or 6 am on a daily basis with my son and manage to make it to — and through — an evening writing workshop that extends past my usual early (lame) bedtime? I suppose I’ll have to try it and see.
And also, coffee. Coffee is good.