February makes me want to rewrite T. S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land”:
February is the cruelest month, breeding
absofreakinglutely nothing out of anything, mixing
cold and darkness, freezing
numb roots with icy slush.
Winter froze our butts off, covering
our hearts with snow, feeding
us bad news and worse news.
Summer seemed unthinkable, walking over the sidewalk
without slipping and falling flat on our faces.
I could go on, but I’ll spare you.
And anyway, it’s March now! Huzzah!!!
Except March has come in not like a lion or a lamb, but like the Abominable Snow Monster from that Rudolph movie.
I’m not a total grinch. I like snow, really. But I also like pizza, tiny goats, and fuzzy socks, and I don’t want to look outside every day and see the world covered in those things 24/7, either.
Snow days just don’t have quite the same magic when you’re on the adult end of them and you’re trapped in a house with two small boys who, the night before, were putting on their jammies inside-out and backwards, flushing ice cubes down the toilet, and praying to all the gods of small boys for snow, and who now are oozing bonelessly over the furniture moaning, “I’m boooooooooored.”
Not much writing has happened here over the past few weeks. Precious little, in fact.
But there are signs of life, as I’m reminded when I muck through the semipermafrost that the trail behind my house has become. Spring is coming. I think.
This week’s #LivetheQuest prompt from Jeffrey Davis is a timely one. I’m ready for some celebration:
#LiveTheQuest – 9:
What indicators of growth can you celebrate? #celebrations
Look back on your second month as well as at your reflections with prompt 5 – #growth. What small indicators can you identify and celebrate that you have changed something positively in Month 2 or that you are moving the direction you need? For instance, are you acting differently? Are you thinking differently? Are you speaking about yourself as a business artist and your best work differently?
I’ve been getting down on myself over the last few weeks because I haven’t produced much of anything. But I need to step back and look at the bigger picture. Because I am moving foward, making progress with some of my goals. Here is what I have to celebrate:
- I’m getting more sleep. Woo-hoo! Because I have all the self-control of your average five-year-old, I have made myself a checklist. It’s a little sad how easily motivated I am by checklists, but you have to go with what works. Also, I have instructed my eight-year-old that if he sees me up and about after 10pm, he is honor-bound to whack me upside the head with a pillow. He has accepted this responsibility with all the solemnity it deserves. So far, I have not been whacked. As an additional motivator, I am not allowed to save the world by baking virtual pumpkin pies and taming electronic wolves unless I get to bed on time. My children are not devastated to get to be the enforcers for once.
- My collaboration with photographer Cara Walton is moving in some very cool directions. What began as a collaboration on a single piece has morphed into a series of pieces combining her gorgeous images and my words, and with these she’s put together and submitted an entire show, which has been accepted by a local art gallery and will be on display next year. We have another project in the works, too, which at the moment is top secret. More on this to come…….
- Though February, via weather and childhood illnesses, has thwarted my plans to attend the local writers’ group, there’s an author festival this Saturday, and the Virginia Festival of the Book is coming soon! This year I will be getting out more into the larger writerly community, and I’m excited about that. If you’re in Virginia, you really should check out this event. It’s fantastic!
- I’m percolating new story ideas. I’ve got several projects in various stages of development, from first drafts to manuscripts out to critique partners, and I’m incubating ideas for a couple of brand new novels. So, though I haven’t written much, there is a lot of work happening in my imagination.
- My big excitement of the last couple of weeks is that the full manuscript of my contemporary YA novel has now been requested by three agents! There are still a million hurdles to surmount between me and my dream of publication, but for the first time in forever, I feel like I’m making steady and measurable progress toward my goal of making a career out of doing what I love. I’m sure there’s still a lot of rejection in the future, but it’s reassuring to know that I’m on the right track–that I can write a decent query letter and that my first chapter is worth reading.
- I’m continuing with my #365photoproject on roots and wings. I’m being pretty abstract about it most days, as far as my choices of what to photograph, but all those committed 365-ers are right–a 365 project really does change the way you see the world. Subtly, for me, but I’m beginning to feel the groundswell. I’m thinking a lot about roots and wings these days, about the things that tie us to places and the things that free us from them, about security versus adventure, and about how these things really aren’t opposites but complementary in many ways. So roots and wings are talking to each other in my mind, and my realization of the morning, fueled by tea, is this: roots are flying, too, just downwards, out and down into the rich deep darkness of soil and the mysteries of the earth, rather than up into the thin bright air. I need to sit with this thought some more, but I’m liking it.
So, winter is not forever. Spring is coming. A few nights ago, my husband and I ran out in the dark with headlamps to shift a beehive onto new cinderblocks. The thaw and heave of the earth had it tilting dangerously, and I was afraid that March would blow it over. As we wrested it onto a safer perch, my light caught the dull glimmer of little dark bodies heaped on the ground just outside the hive. Dead bees. Lots of them. But that, strange as it may sound, is a good sign, a sign of life, because a healthy hive practices the good hygiene of casting out its dead. We set the hive down, and were rewarded for our efforts with an angry hum from the dark depths.
Shantih shantih shantih