Friday, November 14, 2014

Winter = Writing?

I love a lot of things. This blog is a testament to how much I love writing. If you read my Nov. 10th post you’ll see how much I love reading. I also love laughing, making others laugh, spending time with people who make me feel hopeful, riding my bike, a glass (or two) of crisp white wine, seeing vegetables grow in gardens, and the list goes on. What don’t I love? Being cold.

I was probably still cold
under all these layers
I hate being cold, which is sad because I am always cold. I am not exaggerating. In the summer I am cold in the air conditioning. In the winter I am cold pretty much twenty-four hours a day. I grew up in the Midwest and still live there so unfortunately, cold weather has always been a part of my life. I have donned snow suits over Halloween costumes and Easter dresses. I have had to shovel snow at 5 AM in order to get to work, and again at 5 PM in order to get home. I have lived through a blizzard. I have slipped on ice more than I care to admit. I have coughed like I was losing a lung because I took a breath outside during temperatures that dipped well below zero.

Around October I start getting anxious about the inevitable cold coming my way. I don’t like the short days and the nip in the air. The smell of bonfires and burning leaves remind me that one day soon I will wake up to a layer of snow that I will have to shovel. These reminders make me sad. They drain me creatively and emotionally. When I think of winter, I think that I can’t possibly write when I feel so cold and tired. If you talk to me on a given evening between October and April, I am probably a lot grumpier than when we chat between May and September. I apologize in advance.

Me and my brother rocking
identical footie PJ's
I tried to recall if I’ve always hated winter. I don’t believe so. As a child, I remember going sledding with my siblings and I loved it. My dad would take us to a nearby park where we’d jump on plastic sleds and whip down the hills for hours. We’d get home to warm soup and hot chocolate, exhausted from the excursion of hauling the sleds back up the hill again and again. I recall me and my brother and wearing matching footie pajamas. We’d run across the hardwood floors and slide on the slippery footie part, like we were on ice skates. I loved when snow days brought all the neighborhood kids out to play. Only our eyes were recognizable beneath the layers of winter wear. Those are all great memories, made possible by winter, so why do I hate it so much now?

I'm sitting in snow and smiling so I didn't hate it back then.
What happened?
As the first snow fall of the season is expected in the next few hours, I struggle to hold on to those positive memories. I don’t like that I dread winter with so much passion these days. It makes me feel old and cranky – two adjectives I don’t want associated with me. Yet, those memories aren’t enough to change my feelings. I need more. I need to make it relevant to adulthood, where snow days mean finding last minute child-care, and the only person who will dig my car out of the snow is yours truly. So, I am trying something new. If you follow me on Facebook you’ll see it. Whenever I realize something about winter that I don’t deem dreadful, I’m going to post it. That way I have a log of reasons why winter isn’t going to get the best of me and I can refer to it when I’m losing that battle.

The first reason I can think of is that I re-wrote my YA novel between January and May. I started it many months before, but I scrapped it and started over again in the winter. I love the story much more after the overhaul. I know that has nothing to do with winter, per say, but maybe it does. Maybe if I had the distractions that come with warm weather, when the sun calls me to be outdoors, when there are riverfront concerts and farmer’s markets, maybe I wouldn’t have been able to get 75,000 words together. Perhaps if a polar vortex hadn’t shut down the city I wouldn’t have had those hours to write. After all, the way to be a writer is to write. Winter gives plenty of opportunity to do that, especially a lingering Midwestern one. Of course I write throughout the year, regardless of the weather, but when you’re confined to your house for days on end, you really have no excuse not to get a lot of writing done. 

So my challenge to you is to help me. If you have a reason why you love winter, or something that you do to make it more palatable, please stop by my Facebook page, or post it as a comment below. One day it may become part of a story I have yet to write. 

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