I told my brother this morning that today should be the day I start south. And then, thoughtfully, that yesterday probably should have been. It is cold in Pennsylvania right now and I am so underprepared for cold weather. The van is quite cozy — its heater works beautifully — but bundling up in a multitude of layers every time I step outside is a PITA.

This is why people own winter coats.

I, however, do not own a winter coat and while I could buy one, of course, I haven’t wanted a mostly useless object cluttering up the van. I’m probably going to have to reconsider that position in the next few months, though. I’m not sure yet what this winter is going to bring — possibly a lot more driving hours than I will actually appreciate — but a winter coat might become a necessity.

Anyway, despite the cold, I’m not heading south yet. My niece is in her school play, opening night this Thursday, and I’m going to stick around long enough to see her perform. I’d be tempted to stick around for Halloween, too — she’s going to be some sort of skeleton pirate, and the preliminary make-up experiments have been impressively horrifying while also cute as anything — but it’s too cold and I have too much to do in Florida.

Also, I’ve gone over three weeks without dumping the tanks, and that’s too long. I’ll be staying inside the house for the next couple of days, partially because of the cold but mostly because I’ve hit the point where I really, truly, positively can’t use the toilet again until I dump the black tank, so it is definitely time to find myself a campground. I told my dad yesterday that the details of my future home fantasies were narrowing down to “running water.” Sure, a room with a view, nearby yoga, affordable cost-of-living, those are all nice. But running water is glorious.

Also, yesterday, I ordered a 50-pod pack of black-tank sanitizer pods from Amazon. Given that I can and often do go about two weeks without dumping the tanks, and I still have four or five pods left from the pack I’ve been using, that means I’ve got about two years worth of black-tank sanitizing ahead of me. My shopping subconscious possibly knows more about my future home plans than my conscious mind is willing to admit to.

Writing has been going horribly badly of late. I hate every word I write. Some of that is author love. I read The Spymaster’s Lady by Joanna Bourne a couple of weeks ago. Someone online said that it was their favorite book of all time, their comfort read, so I checked it out from the library. It sat on my Libby bookshelf for over two weeks, because I don’t read much historical romance and I was dubious at best. Finally, when I had only a couple of days left, I started to read. A few chapters in, I was hating it, almost on the verge of giving up, when suddenly, there was a twist. A really good, really fun, totally implausible but super cool twist. I gobbled down the rest of the book, reached the end, started over again while trying to read more slowly, reached the end, and started over again! Not often that I read a book three times in a row.

I actually still wasn’t sure how I felt about it. It definitely wouldn’t make it onto my favorite book ever list or even anywhere close, largely because the sex is… well, pre-#metoo, if that’s sufficient explanation. But the writing was still fantastic, even if the romance was a prime example of questionable consent issues. But I promptly put all the rest of her books on hold at the library. Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, while I was waiting, Amazon sent me a gift card, and I didn’t hesitate. (Incidentally, The Spymaster’s Lady is $2.99 on Kindle at the moment, so if you do like historical romance, it’s a deal.) So over the course of the past ten days or so, I’ve read all of Joanna Bourne’s books.

For a little while, they sunk me into the depths of despair. She’s an incredible writer — her plots are completely fun, with levels of implausibility that you just don’t care about at all. Seriously, lost heiresses, spy schools, amnesia, they’ve got it all. But she sets them in worlds with so many vivid, concrete, sensory details that they feel real. Then she adds smart characters who actually behave like smart people (most of them anyway); language and metaphors that fit the point of view; and a sense of wry humor. They made me want to give up on being a writer entirely.

Then, fortunately, I think, I read her very first book, which was not available at my library but was available at Amazon. The most important thing to know about that book is that it was originally published in 1983. The second most important to know about it is that you really, really, really don’t want to read it as an example of her writing. Probably, you really don’t want to read it at all. I’m actually a little surprised that she let it be re-issued. But it comforted me. I will not give up on being a writer quite yet.

And that does mean I should get back to it. At about 5:30 this morning, I had an idea about where I’d gone wrong with Fen, and why I was so stuck. I knew, knew, knew that I should get up and open my computer and write it down, but it was so cozy in my nest of blankets. I promised myself I’d remember it. Ha. But maybe when I stare at the file for a while, it will come back to me.

Off I go to stare.