Most people imagine a certain cozy comfort when it comes to the idea of rainy days. To many, there is nothing more soothing than listening to the patter of rain outside while curled up in a chair with a good book and a hot beverage, or taking a quick stroll throughout the neighborhood in the midst of a slight drizzle.

I, on the other hand, hate rain.

I don’t mean this in the sarcastic I-love-walking-in-the-rain-so-no-one-can-see-me-cry emo kind of crap, or ‘I don’t like rain cause thunder scares me’, or even ‘I don’t like rain cause cars splash me all the time.,’ although they really do. I just absolutely hate any kind of rain.

The Philippines isn’t all about great beaches and corrupt government. We’ve also got floods, which is kind of a quarterly thing we’ve got going on in most of the major cities. Here in Manila, weather reports that end with “a chance of rain” could very easily be translated into “OMG GET TO HIGHER GROUND WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!”

With a congested sewage system (or heavily deforested mountains, if you’re living in the provinces), moderate rainfall that in some other more developed country could literally just mean a walk in the park usually results in flooded streets and greyish-green muck rising up from poorly placed manholes. And since the government uses emergency relief funds for other more important things than saving lives and buying the necessary equipment to rescue stranded people – such as jewels for their mistresses or a nice beach house out in Florida – nine times out of ten, when the flood rises here, most people are pretty screwed.

Even light rain gets my goat. Have you ever smelled rain in heavy smog? There’s also the delightful stink rising out from the often-unrepaired, horribly constructed sewage systems around the metro that only increases whenever there’s additional moisture in the air.

I mention this because most people I know actually enjoy the rain (oddly enough, even many people living in Manila), and few  understand my violence toward even the lightest of rainfalls. When Typhoon Ketsana hit, I was at home in relative safety and comfort despite the blackouts, complaining about the electricity. When Typhoon Ketsana hit, the first floor of my then-boyfriend now-husband’s house was flooded, and if they hadn’t moved the cars in time they all would have been submerged in the flood. You would think he hates rain as much as I do, but he actually likes it. Most friends who live abroad don’t understand my hatred, as an overwhelming majority like summer showers, and even moderate monsoons.

It’s hard living in a land of rain and floods when you’re a creature of the sun.

More often than not it gets me thinking about situations, and how different folks are affected differently by it, in the same way one agent might hate the very same thing about a manuscript that another agent loves. (This has happened to and confused me more times than I care to admit.)

It’s a pretty good insight into character, and a fairly good litmus test if you’d like to experiment with your protagonist’s / antagonist’s behavior. I could claim oddity, being that the things I write never wander far from my thoughts on any given occasion, but nonetheless – when the rain comes down and I am fortunate enough to be indoors (preferably in a coffee shop with my laptop and a large green tea frappe) my thoughts turn to the rain outside in between breaks in my writing, and I think about how my own characters would react.

Like Zoe would be practicing her pirouettes under a large tree enjoying herself, or if inside her house she’d throw back the curtains and watch a Gene Kelly movie with a bowl of Ben and Jerry’s while listening to the patter outside. Dexter would break his neck trying to get home as fast as he could to avoid getting wet, but still wind up catching a cold. If stuck outside alone, Aelwhin would call up her most recent date and shrilly demand to be Taken Home This Instant Because Catering to my Needs Is What Being My Boyfriend is All About. Loki would still be out camping, and wouldn’t care at all. West would be outside even in the strongest of downpours for reasons no one else understands and, as he often is, would be naked.

If anything else, he could shift into dog and shake all the wet out of his fur before treading on the indoor carpet.

And sometimes my mood changes with the weather, and the heavier the rain, the  bleaker the confidence. Maybe I’m not as good as I think I am. Maybe I’ll never get published. Living in the Philippines is one of the worst places to try and be an international author in, the odds are stacked against you. Especially given all the creatively pidgin English being used here. Will agents even take me seriously? Maybe I should start looking for a better job. It’s a part of the whole process, I know, but it doesn’t make it feel any better.

Today, it isn’t raining. The irony about the Philippines is that the worst of rain can immediately be followed by the most blistering of sun. Summer costs a stagnant, sweltering two months here, and then remains intermittent through the rest of the year, but I usually find I can stand the heat better than I can the cold. So for now I tuck the uncertainties away and keep them for another rainy day, and step outside, my little laptop in my bag because whatever my dislike for stormy seasons, when it comes I’ll still be hunkered at my little coffee shop with my large frappe, toiling away at works in progress despite the lack of confidence battering at my window. Above me, the sun is shining.


AW March 2012 Blog Chain Participants!

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