My neighborhood is full of snow piles taller than me. Backing out of the driveway is challenging; I can’t see oncoming traffic until I’m actually in it. The two dogs who live in our house don’t want to go outside and I can’t see out the laundry room window anymore because of the snow that blocks it. The walkway is a little slick. The patio door is snowed in.
All of this snow is the perfect analogy for what’s in my head right now. Piles of thoughts, limited vision, lack of motivation to dig through some of it and slippery going when I do dig. Sometimes the wind comes up and things swirl around, resettle. It could be the season – holidays that make many of us crazy with family expectations that don’t always make sense. It could be that my son is getting married in two days in a family-only ceremony that shifts our universe. It could be that my sixteen-year-old daughter is pulling further away from me every second, which makes me unbelievably sad. It could even be that I want to adopt my daughter’s boyfriend, which is silly since he already has a mom; I just love having him around. Or it could be that I’m way too restless as a writer and sitting still in front of a computer has lost all its appeal. Who knows? My head is full and I need a plow to clear a path through all these thoughts and feelings.
Someone asked me last week about my poems, how I make myself write them every day, what I start with. I couldn’t come up with a pat answer because I start with whatever’s in front of me, which can be anything from the thread on the hem of my shirt to the headline on the day’s newspaper to my husband’s facial expression. It might be the random thought about what is missing or that there is whipped cream in the refrigerator that would be great on top of my coffee. Or I just look at the blank white page and walk into it. Plow a path. Shuffle around among images that bubble to the surface and let myself be surprised. Ignore the idea that I can’t see to the end until I get there. I couldn’t tell if the person who asked the question felt my answer made any sense.
The surprise part is what works really well for me. So what if there’s no clear vision of what lies ahead? You head out into it anyway, like anything else you might do: backing out of the driveway, growing up, getting married, discovering another person you want in your life. There may be loads of writers out there who work with an outline, a clear idea from start to finish, but I’m not usually of of them unless the piece to be written is an academic one. Even then, I may not be entirely sure what I think until it comes together in the writing process.
At any rate, navigating snow piles inspires me right now. It suits me perfectly.
DO A KIND THING
Have you contributed to your local Toys for Tots yet? Whether you celebrate the holidays or not, you can still make a kid happy. Don’t forget to consider older kids, too – teens needs some holiday cheer every bit as much as the little ones. Don’t like to shop? Consider an online donation.