By Gayle Lynds
Reposted from January 2018, when the snow was even deeper than it is now. Brrr!
It’s true that winter can drive some of us writers into dark, metaphorical caves, but then we escape the despair and boredom by throwing ourselves into our writing. Whew.
Or, instead, winter invigorates us, and we head outdoors to challenge the snow, bask in sunshine beneath crystal blue skies, and wallow in sport ranging from shoveling the sidewalk to skiing downhill at blistering speeds. The result? We return to our desks with adrenaline rushing and nowhere finer to put it than into our latest book. Fun!
I’m always suspect of those who find winter little different from any other season. Yes, those crazy folks exist, especially in California and Florida. Since I lived in Southern California for a few decades, I get to say it: The subtlety of the seasons is often lost in the day-to-day beauty, although there’s graphic evidence of change. For instance, bottle brush bushes, prickly pear cacti, and poinsettias blossom at different times. On the other (confusing) hand, roses bloom all year round.
No wonder so many writers of murder mysteries live there — they’re drumming up emotional excitement.
In Maine, winter gives us plenty of thrills. Think how much fun it is to write about blood steaming in the snow. Or about tromping through a humid jungle while an Arctic snowstorm blasts past our windows.
John and I find winter swings both ways for us, with periods of lassitude and meandering minds, and long stretches of focus and work. This is my seventh winter here, and I’ve discovered a lot of joy not only in the challenges of the elements but also in their visual feast.
I watch the mountains beyond my office windows the way I used to watch the ocean in Santa Barbara. Shadows and storms, sunrises and sunsets … all feed my writerly soul. Our isolation here in a forest is new for me — I’ve always lived in cities, concrete as much a part of my life as the daily buzz of electrical wires, the drone of traffic, and the cadences of different languages as I walked to a theater or the grocery store.
But here in our forest, deer pause to look at the house as if they can see me at work, and I smile. When I spot a fox running near the treeline, my heart skips a fluttering beat. There’s nothing like the array of birds who partake of our bird feeder — chickadees, cardinals, bluebirds, blue jays, red-headed woodpeckers, downy woodpeckers, and pileated woodpeckers. And of course there are the hawks and bald eagles.
Much of life is decided for us. But not all. We can choose how we see what we see, how we experience it, whether we want feast or famine. I had no idea how I would feel about Maine until I got here. Imagine my joy in the adventure of it all.
So take heart all you writers and non-writers. Winter is our friend.
What do you think? Does winter invigorate you, leave you dreading each cold day, or both? Let us know in the comments.
Having grown up outside Chicago with its wind chills and all the rest, I now know I don’t ever want to be that cold again….thus our main home is in Florida where I do the majority of my writing. I love to watch boats gliding by, palm trees swaying, and being able to swim laps in our pool every single day (well, almost every day). However, it is obvious that you, Gayle, relish your winter experiences – and judging from your terrific books, all is well on that score.
Blood steaming in the snow–what an image! I live in Kansas City, Missouri, where winters can be pretty cold, with or without snow. For me, the cold days are good incentive to stay inside and write. I probably get a lot more writing (and reading!) done in the winter than I do when sunshine and warmth tempt me outside to work in my garden.
You capture the violent and the eerie, the pristine and the beautiful. Everything winter is and can be. Love this.
I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, have lived in Florida for 22 years, and I like winter fine. I’d love it and feel it was perfect for a writer to hibernate with their words—if I were retired and didn’t have to go out every morning and drive in it. THAT I don’t miss at all. But the beauty of the pristine covering, the quiet…it’s wonderful.
Thank you Karna, M.A., Jenny, and Lisa! Maybe because I grew up in the Midwest as several of you did has made my transition easier, but gosh … all that snow is gorgeous!
I dunno. Living away from the hustle and bustle sounds like it would be ideal for a writer. All that quiet. All that nature. As a crime writer, my mind goes immediately to bad guys, though. How close is the nearest prison? What if there’s a prison break and Louie the Hacker burrows out and heads right for my isolated house where the deer roam free? Now I’m stuck out there in the middle of nowhere with nothing but a laptop, a mug of tea and no cellphone reception? The mind reels. But the view looks nice, Gayle. LOL.
I grew up in the mountains of Colorado, fairly isolated, then lived for nearly 18 years in Frisco, CO where we had snow from September to May. I love the snow. That said, winter in Colorado is very different than most places. There might be heaps of snow, but the sun shines nearly every day, and — for whatever reason — it’s not quite as bone chillingly cold. I would agree with Tracy on this one — it’s the isolation that fuels the imagination.