It’s snowing again in southeast Ohio. The snow is beautiful, and I love to look at it, but I am tired of the hassles it brings. I live in the country along a gravel road and up a gravel drive. The road and drive are nearly impossible to navigate in this weather so that means parking at the bottom of the driveway or over by the mailbox and trudging up and down, up and down, with groceries, briefcase and computer, dog food and bird seed.It is a good workout, but not one I look forward to.
Sometimes, unfortunately, it feels like this when I sit down at the computer to write. Don’t get me wrong. I love to write. I love to write almost more than anything in the world. On days when the words are flowing, I forget to eat, lose track of time, and experience a high no substance could ever create. But it doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes, even though I want to write, want to be absolutely brilliant, find connections, make magic on the page, all I can manage is to revise a little, or retype something old, or write something completely horrible that even I can’t stand to read. It feels kind of like this winter feels: mind-numbing and hopeless. Like all the good stuff has already happened and I will never get those good times back.
But, if there is anything I have learned in my lifetime, it is that everything cycles back. This seemingly never-ending winter will end. Spring and summer will come eventually. And every time I sit down at the computer, there’s the chance that the writing magic will happen, that I will fall into that zone I live for where words come so fast my fingers can barely keep up. I also know that won’t happen at all if I don’t show up and put my hands on the keyboard.
As Jane Yolen says in Take Joy: A Book for Writers, “…I write because it is a joy and a pleasure and something I must do. Not because a teacher has shown me flakes falling outside and insisted I write about it. I am my own teacher and my own window and my own falling flakes…Writing every day…means the exercising of the writing muscle. Priming the writing pump.”
So, I prime the pump. I show up. I trudge. Just like navigating this winter and the rough roads, I make a path and plunge through. I spin my wheels. I park and walk, up and down, up and down. But I’m building muscle with each step, building resilience, and those are both good things to have in writing and in life. If every day dawned sunny and 75, would I appreciate it as much? Maybe, but maybe not.
For now, I will keep moving as best I can, knowing that each boot step makes the next one easier, and each word I write promises another will also come.