Saturday, January 8, 2011

Writing about Writing and Fighting with Winter

As a child, I remember one thing I knew for certain was that I did not want any sort of career that required me to write for a living.  See, I liked writing.  And while this might seem counterintuitive, I didn't want that joy to be sullied by everyday repetition, regular requirements, and deadlines.  I wanted to keep my voice for myself, to say only what and when I wanted to say, to hoard my words, a quiet source of solitary pleasure for a girl with five sisters who had few opportunities to have everything the way I wanted it, few chances to choose not to share, collaborate, compromise.

I wanted to be the whole and only boss of my words.

Though this has resulted in far fewer of them being written down, and less opportunity for development and improvement of my writing skills, I have never regretted it.  If being a "real" writer means (as I have often read that it does) that you don't want to write, but that you must write, then I am quite happily less than real.  Unreal.  Or surreal?  Whatever the case may be!  I go long periods without writing, and I am perfectly content with it.  It's not at all that I simply must write.  It's that I want to.  And I really like it that way.

Still a thrill, in my mid-thirties, to be the whole and only boss of something, even if it is only my own words, my own place to play without sharing a single thing!

So in the spirit of purely recreational writing, starting tomorrow I will be re-running a four-part series I wrote last year about winter.  I had only been blogging about a month when I started it, and I drove home from work each afternoon thinking about the next post, excited to sit down after my son went to sleep, put fingers to keyboard, and see what happened.  I had a lot of fun writing it!  For me, and for now, that's the whole point.

This winter series is apropos for another reason too.  Namely, here it is again, and here I am again, both hating its guts and trying hard to embrace and make the best of it.  Having two children is thus far lovely, but it would be far lovelier in the spring or fall, with the option to spend some time each day outdoors.  My son needs to move, and so do I, but it's hard to convince myself to do it when it's twenty-something degrees outside and it means leaving the baby and my husband indoors, carrying my cell phone and waiting for the call to rush home and nurse.

Yesterday my boy and I did an hour or so of yoga together, incorporating his new plastic play tent and tunnel as props in our stretching routine and utilizing his big alphabet floor puzzle as a cushioned mat between our spines and the hardwood floor.  I let him climb me in certain poses (Child's Pose) and ride on my back in others (Cat and Cow), and directed him to crawl, jump and run while I contorted into corresponding poses (a homemade mash-up of Sun Salutation components) and offered enough high-fives and high-jinks to keep it interesting.  But I'm not always quick and creative enough to make the best of our too-often-too-messy house to meet his needs, or my own, before we begin to get stir-crazy.  We've gone out almost daily on "family drives" just to get out of the house, but neither cruising the city neighborhoods nor ransacking the various branches of the county library offers enough exertion to wear us out the way a summer hike or morning spent swimming would be able to do.

I choose to live in Upstate New York, in one of the snowiest cities in the continental United States, and yet winter and I ... well, we've never gotten along.  And so each year I battle the elements, determined one of these days (or years) to be able to say:  I love winter!

It won't be this year.

But last year: I loved writing about winter.  And this year: I love that I keep trying to make the best of it, with plastic tents and tunnels, alphabet puzzle playmats, city drives through snowy neighborhoods, and everyday outings turned adventures with the inclusion of a new baby, the creative eyes of a toddler, and the ongoing efforts of his parents.

Much like the act of writing for my own silent pleasure in the words themselves, I like to sneak what moments of glee I can covertly gather in the face of an adversary much larger than myself.  I won't win the war with winter.  But that doesn't mean I can't score a few smackdowns in battles along the way, and take a couple moments to thoroughly savor their thrill.

I hope you enjoy reading about winter over the next few days as much as I enjoyed writing about it!  And I wish us all much joy and pleasure in the words that the cold winter weather gives us extra time to compose.  See, one more small seasonal victory!  Take that, winter!


  1. oh, winter. luckily, we've avoided a lot of the mess your area. who knew? only 2 hours away in the Great White North and we have a skimming of snow covering the grass. WEIRD. But I'll take it. I am so happy we're past Dec. 21 and the days are getting longer. So there's that too.

    I look forward to re-reading those posts!
    hugs to you & those babies from their imaginary canadian auntie :)