I wonder what the humans are doing this morning?

Right now New York City is under a deluge. The rain started last night around midnight and hasn’t stopped since. What little snow we had is gone, and the streets are being scrubbed clean by the rain (thank God).
What this means to me is that my morning sucked. My dog won’t go out in the rain, so I had to walk him, drag him really, around the block to get him to do his “stuff.” He did his “stuff” and then some. Let’s just say I was one bag short, and leave it at that. By the time I got home I was already soaked. It was 7AM and I had to head to the subway to start my commute. I packed my books, my journal, a dry pair of pants (I kid you not; I changed when I got here and my wet pair are hanging on the back of my office door), and headed back out into the rain. My walk to the subway is about ten minutes, and I was wet to begin with, so when I reached the train I was dripping. I was wet to the skin from my waist down. It was as if I’d waded to the subway station.
The train came quickly and I got on and found a seat. I squished into a semi-comfortable position. I find being wet to the skin can put a damper on being comfortable. Now I’m trying to figure out how to keep my book bag, lunch, and umbrella from dripping on me or the people next to me. I finally say f@#$ it and put everything on my lap. Now comes the hard part. Do I write? My morning commute is my prime writing time. An hour or more of uninterrupted writing on my way into Manhattan, it’s how I start my day and get work done and feel good about having to sit in an office with wet pants on the door for 8 hours. But I am so wet, and my hands are full of wet bags and umbrellas. I don’t even have my iPod. I sit and stare out the window.
Finally I decide that, yes, I will write. So I pull out my journal, put the date in the corner of a fresh page and then… a dripping guy and his daughter sit down next to me and I realize I’m dripping on the page and the ink will run and I’m totally not going to be writing this ride. I’m miserable and I sit and stare out the window.
After a few stops I turn and realize that the train has partially filled up, that there are some interesting people in my car, and I try to watch them out of the corner of my eye.
The man with the little girl is holding her hand lovingly. When they come to their stop she stands and gives him a big hug, and then they leave. I can’t help but look at my hand and wonder if I won’t hold my son’s hand like that when I take him to school in four years.
There is another little girl across the aisle. She’s eating Cheerios, one at a time, by taking them out with two fingers, carefully, as if they are ants, and dropping them into her mouth from above. She gives off a little yummy “mmmm” after each one.
A woman sits near the little girl. She applies makeup as we go. And more makeup. And more makeup. By the time she leaves she looks like a clown with an office gig.
I realized that it had been a long time since I’d simply watched people, just sat back and took in the world without journaling, or editing, or reading, or viewing. I have consumed the world that’s been packaged, through books and magazines and television and movies. I haven’t just been watching the world as it is.
It turned out to be a good day to watch the humans.

Sudden flashes of inspiration and gift-giving.

Just a quick thought today: put everything you’ve got into the first draft, because you don’t know what will pop out at the end. What I mean is, don’t edit yourself thinking “this doesn’t really have a place here.” You can always pull out those a loose threads later, but in the early stages you don’t know the loose threads from the tightly woven fabric. My current work in progress was going along fine when I had a major snow storm hit the city the main character was in. No reason for it, just a huge snow storm. I thought, at the time, “Don’t know if I should keep this.” Later, in a flashback scene, I found the character running through a building which had been scarred by arson, and which was catching fire again. The fire is put out using fire extinguishing foam. No particular reason why foam, but it was there. As I described how the foam covered everything I realized that it had inadvertantly made everything look as if it was covered in snow, building a very nice bridge back to the present events. The fire, the arson, the snow, the fire-extinguisher. None of those were planned, but they worked together to create a nice web of images that help with the internal drive of my main character.
They are what a writing teacher referred to as “gifts a writer gives to themselves.” By not forcing my writing into a certain path, by allowing the unexpected, I gave myself room to breath later on.