Monday, January 8, 2018

'Bomb Cyclone' and Solitude: The Writing Life

I’m writing this as the sun sets, the sky cast in a wintry peach-red glow, like so many evenings before and in my childhood. It looks like a moonscape out there, delicate ridges of wind-whipped snow, the stillness, no birds, except a brief echoing call of Canada geese.

The May Sarton own slice of quietude, maybe not the wilds of New Hampshire or Maine, but it will do. I like solitude. I'm happiest when I can go home, shut the front door and think. A couple of years ago I probably would have been too embarrassed to admit this. 
This past week as temperatures dipped into the ridiculous and beyond frigid, I didn’t step outside the house for two days. I’d heard about the so-called “bomb cyclone” and stocked up on wild-caught salmon, rice, arugula. Put some vodka in the freezer. After writing and emailing information about the Women's Writing Circle all morning that first day, I took down the Christmas tree. It's surreal but I even washed the baseboards in the foyer. Then I watched the Japanese figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu on YouTube perform his perfect salchows and triple flips during his short program at the Sochi Winter Olympics. I watched it several times, astonished at the beauty of perfection in motion.

I kept writing and muted the cell phone. I wrote something about sex and a woman in her sixties. I like it. It's going in my new book.

On Day Three of the Deep Freeze, my sons stopped over. We got to talking about the weather. I mentioned that “inertia” won over buying a second home in Arizona, not in a way of regret, as a matter of life and circumstances. My younger son said, “I’m worried about you, Mom. Staying in the house alone like this. Not doing anything with your life.” They asked me to join them later for drinks and football, but the thought of braving the cold kept me indoors.

The 'not doing anything with your life' stung a bit. But unless you’re a writer, you don’t understand. We're working all the time. It's just that the results aren't always immediate. We need time alone; the story or stories we want to write always playing as background music in contemplation.

As women we realize how much we have lost by trying to meet the demands of others and not ourselves.

A dog is easy companionship. Your will and hers are one ... until soulful brown eyes beg a walk. Luckily, I have a fenced-in backyard. Lily runs in ridiculous circles in the snow, dragging small tree branches that have come down in the wind between her teeth. I don’t know how people with large dogs, or even small dogs, manage without a fenced-in backyard. I love watching her run with abandon.

There’s a sense of contentment that temperatures are moving up into the thirties and even into the fifties later this week. It means I won’t be too cold to get into the car and drive to my exercise classes and see people, some of whom are not just work-out participants, but friends. A mid-week conference on women's issues and the Women's Writing Circle read around this weekend are events I look forward to for stimulation and conversation.

Meanwhile, I’m happy here…Lily dozing at my feet. I'm writing and relishing solitude. I'll remember the 'bomb cyclone'. Goodbye to a 'perfect' winter scenario for the writer.

How about you? What do you enjoy about writing in winter?

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