An unexpected party

attempting to give my imagination wings with some honey orchid black tea from far-off Fujian province.....
attempting to give my imagination wings with some honey orchid black tea from far-off Fujian province…..

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

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13 thoughts on “An unexpected party

  1. Oh dear! These are magical words to hear today. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!

    “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.” – This idea blows my mind. In two ways. The first being the idea of moderation, for everything. We can love and like, but the things we love and like all have appropriate proportion and place in this world. Yup, I know that’s not really the intention you write with here, but it struck a chord with some issues and life-stuff I’ve been tossing through my head. Of the things and people you love, how much to let in, and where? Even the good stuff can be too present in life and shift you. Now I will imagine a world just covered in tiny goats eating pizza while wearing fuzzy socks in a snowstorm – and nothing else on this planet – when I need to feel that balance. (Not what you were writing, but a good new metaphor for me!) And, now I’ve forgotten what the second thing was.

    Good luck with your bees, that’s a beautiful metaphor too. Thanks for providing some soul salve today.

    And good luck with your manuscript! You have such a great attitude.

    1. Thank you so, so much, dear Vanessa! One of the most beautifully transformative parts of putting writing out there in the larger world is the ways in which readers enrich it through their own unique interpretations. I love what you wrote about moderation–it’s something I’m always striving for (and often falling way short of). When I do fall short, I like to remind myself that if all things are best in moderation, that has to include moderation, right?! 😉

  2. You are an angry hum sounding from the depths of winter, rising towards warmth. I love this post and celebrate your navigation of those boneless boys. Hugs all around. xoS

    1. Thanks so much, dear Suzi. This winter has made my exoskeleton a bit brittle for sure, but the boneless boys, in addition to oozing across the furniture, also do remind me to just chill out sometimes, too. 🙂

  3. I tried complaining about the cold and snow. Nothing changed! Today is very lovely, sunshiney and snownglisteney. I saw a neighbor x-country skiing down the street, smiling. Note to self: time to replace the decrepit outmoded x-country gear I discarded a few years ago. There. Now I feel a better!

  4. That rewrite of T.S. Eliot is the best. Do you mind if I put it on my fridge, and write “Spring is here!” over it in bright markers? 🙂 (I recognize the boneless oozing. My sympathies.)

    1. Sue, I am fully in favor of any actions, conventional or otherwise, that will make spring hurry up and get here! I just went out and bought a bunch of bizarre art supplies today with plans to make some kind of springy collage so that I can stare at it and pretend there are birds and butterflies in the Northern Hemisphere.

  5. Lovely. Wonderful and straightforward. Congratulations on them clambering for your manuscript! And also for the collaboration; I have been thinking about collaborations a lot lately, or noticing more lately. May have to eventually write a post about that, myself. 🙂

    1. Thanks so much! The collaboration really is amazing–it feels so rich and productive–so much MORE than just one person working in isolation. I look forward to your post!

  6. oh, and I love that part about the healthy bee hive and their appropriate hygiene. Something in there about the ability to cast off what is no longer contributing to the health and vibrancy of the hive as a metaphor-example for us all…..

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