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Rain and WritingFebruary 15, 2012

Mmm. It's pouring outside. We have the window open, and the occasional shuuush of late-night drivers going by punctuates the tapping of the rain. I love it. What is it about rain and writing? 

It reminds me of something I learned not all that long ago when I was walking one evening with Lala in Rockridge. It was that magic moment when lights come on inside houses but the curtains are still open, when you can see fathers coming home, kids racing around living rooms, mothers putting fresh-baked bread on tables (yes, because this is the way I was raised, my brain still sees the world this way although it decidedly is not this way in most cases). I love that moment, spying on that snapshot of families being together. 

Every once in a while when you're walking at that time of night, you'll notice a light shining, high above in a third story window. You can see the ceiling, and maybe the top of a painting, but from that angle you can't quite make out what else or who's in the room. 

In my head, there is always a writer at that window. I think there's always been a writer at that window for me, ever since I was a child, and I mentioned it that night to Lala. 

"You know," she said, "not everyone thinks there's a writer up there." 

"Really? No, of course they do." 


She's an artist, so I asked, "Do you think there's an artist there?" 

"Sometimes. Sometimes I don't think about it." 

This was something I had never considered. That window was a beacon to me. That was the dream. Someday I'd have a garret window, and I'd sit at it, writing late into the night. 

Then I realized I did have that garret window once. When I was about ten, we moved into a farm house on an old, overgrown Christmas tree farm in a small, coastal town. We had a barn, and a horse, and chickens (oh, I hated those chickens). I had the attic bedroom, a tiny cramped space with sloped walls and rafters that even at ten, I had to duck to avoid. It was tight and compact, and I loved it. The back of the chimney formed the back wall of my closet so on cold winter mornings, my clothes were pre-heated for me.

Even at that age, I sat at that window and stared out at the canyon late at night, and I felt what I should write. I attempted it, over and over again. "Once upon a time..." I'd get two or three pages in and I would fail to convey what I'd meant to, and I'd give up and get back in bed with a book, a real one, one that told the story to me the right way. 

But I tried again, over and over again. In a way, I'm still sitting there, even though I usually write in the cafe now, or in my car, or on my breaks at work. No garret window necessary. The writing gets done anyway. But I still long for that, to sit at a high window overlooking over a rainy street filled with pedestrian traffic. And maybe, just maybe, the people below would be wondering if up there behind the glass was a writer, or an artist, or a photographer, hoping for a window of their own, too.


I know what you mean. I love attics, and upstairs windows, and everything about them...even the cramped spaces and ducking under rafters. Where I grew up, all the houses were low and flat - no stairs, no attics, no basements...like we were all a bunch of ants stuck on the bottom of the valley. Now that I have a second story bedroom, I look out into the leaves and feel like I live in my childhood treehouse.

I love upstairs too. When the rain makes that pitter-patter noise on the roof. The keys click away, writing isn't hard or stress inducing -- the words seem to come naturally. You take a brief break and look out the window and see a lone walker with an umberalla a grocery bag. You settle back at the desk, cozily wrapped in a handknit sweater and drink some tea as the words pour on the page.

I see a writer too. Not necessarily a fiction or book writer. Maybe just writing a letter or a diary. They're using a fountain pen and there is a cat sleeping in the bed.

This is just a round about way of saying I REALLY know what you mean. Thumbs up if you can wax lyrical about rain and writing!

My sister and I had the attic bedrooms when I was in HS. We had a huge old clawfoot tub with an added on shower (icy cold on the feet on winter mornings until the hot water warmed the bottom of the tub). I had the room with the closet under the eaves on an outside wall so my sweaters were often frozen to the wall in the winter and I'd often forget to duck and bop my head on the low ceiling half-asleep on a dark, cold winter morning (NE Kansas on the banks of the Mighty MO). I'm a reader not a writer but I loved sitting by my window late on a rainy or snowy night and imagining what was going on in all the other lighted windows. Worst memory? Our attic was set up like the one in Carrie and I had to come home to a dark, empty house the night my friends dragged me to a late showing of the movie. I had to have both dogs (a huge German Shepherd and my little mutt) with me in order to walk past the storage room and the bathroom to the safety of my bedroom.

Love this post : )

A window of your own in a room with a view. Lovely thought that reminds me of v.Woolf. Sanctuary for oneself.

I refuse to believe I'm the only one who imagines a crazy relative or a psycho killer (maybe both) in that room!

That is my favourite time of day - John Steinbeck described it perfectly in 'Cannery Row'. Lovely post.

For me it's not a writer up there but a reader. I've always pictured a small room with a cozy squashy armchair, lamp and bookshelves on both sides filled with books. All that with the golden light spilling out of the window on a dark windy night. Perfection.

This reminds me so much of a Siri Hustvedt novel The Enchantment of Lily Dahl - characters imagining the lives of the people they catch of a glimpse of in upper windows and what happens when they begin to interact. And the paintings of Edward Hopper.
Thank you for bringing these to mind.
You wrote it so well.

I had not thought of it in years: a friend's bedroom, when I was a young child, that had been built out of half the attic. With a dormer window, and the roof slanting down at you till it ended in a cubby of a closet about waist-tall in one direction. It was the most magical room, a level of the house all to herself even if it was so small.

That window looked out on deep woods only.

Okay, so this is completely random and has nothing to do with your post, but I couldn't figure out how to send you a general message. I came across your blog randomly around six years ago when I lived in Berkeley, and have been dropping by every few months since. I don't know why... I just like you and think you're funny and interesting. And you are a lovely writer. You never fail to entertain, or crack me up, or bring me to tears. You've shared some amazing and heartwrenching stories. Thank you.

ANYWAY all I want to say (and my apologies if you've gotten this before) is: you should totally dress up as "Flo" from the Progressive commercials for Halloween! I know I don't know you, but I feel like you could hone into her bubbly personality, you've got the hair and the fabulous smile -- I just think it'd be fun! Can you see it?

That is all. Take care and keep living your wonderful life.


Very touching story, Rachael, thank you for sharing!

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Rachael loves it when book clubs read her work! She's happy to attend book clubs that read her books either in person or via Skype. Contact her at rachael@rachaelherron.com to make arrangements.


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