by | Jan 24, 2018 | Gayle Lynds, The Writer's Life | 2 comments

Our front yard.  Yep.

By Gayle Lynds:  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. 

That’s me, bundled up & out for a brisk hike on our driveway.

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 birdfeeder — chickadees, cardinals, bluebirds, blue jays, red-headed woodpeckers, downy woodpeckers, and pileated woodpeckers.  And of course there are the hawks and bald eagles.

Dawn…. I’m sitting at my desk & glorying in this view.

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 nonwriters.  Winter is our friend. 

Don’t Miss a Thing!



  1. Karna Bodman

    Gayle, you write so beautifully about your winter experiences. I grew up in the Chicago area so certainly know about winter (with blustery winds blowing off Lake Michigan – whew!). However, now I have to admit I would rather write about winter scenes "from memory" – and enjoy the balmy breezes here in Florida. At least reading your lines here, I can conjure up some of the happier times when I was cold (I did love to go ice skating!!). Thanks for a great post.

  2. S. Lee Manning

    I love writing in the winter. I love curling up with hot coffee in front of a fire while snow drifts down. Thank you for the lovely thoughts – as I am right now far from the Vermont winter I love.