Weekend Edition – The Season of the Writer

Winter is coming. Let’s write.

Winter Magic - Writer-Style

Winter Magic – Writer-Style

Sometimes, I miss being a mouse.  I miss it most around this time of year, as autumn begins to wane and small, furry animals scurry about, expending a final burst of energy before their long, winter’s sleep. Watching them stash their acorns and other treasures reminds me of winter afternoons holed up in the makeshift burrow at the foot of my childhood bed.

There was a narrow space between my bed and the floor-to-ceiling bookcase that housed not only my books, but also my large (and meticulously organized) collection of Breyer and other horse figurines. It was just wide enough to accommodate me, and I would often transform it into my own, little hideaway. With a pile of blankets and pillows beneath me as a nest, and the large cutting board my mom used for her sewing above me as a roof, I would retreat into my hibernation den with a Ziploc bag full of cheerios, my sketch book, journal, and pencils. Since my mouse house was built alongside the bookcase, I already had a built-in library, and – since the heating grate was conveniently situated at the foot of my bed – I also had a source of toasty warmth. It was the perfect retreat from the world.

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Living in New England, winter has always been to me a time to hunker down in the cozy warmth of home. I am happiest when curled up on the couch under blankets with a steaming mug of tea and a good book. Even the chores of winter – hauling and stacking firewood (a chore I sadly no longer have since our new abode does not have a fireplace … yet), making soup, baking bread, even shoveling snow – make me feel all warm and fuzzy.

Winter is the time to gather around the hearth and tell tales. It is the season of the storyteller, the keeper of myths and histories. It has also always been, for me, the season of the writer. It’s as if we must keep the balance – spinning new tales as the old ones are spent around the flickering light of the fire.

Winter’s descent into darkness is like journeying into the underworld – a place of foreboding and yet also a place of rest, rejuvenation, and – ultimately – creation and rebirth. Though today’s technology and modern lifestyle try to drown out the rhythms of the seasons, if you listen closely you can still hear winter’s invitation to slow down and nestle into the comforts and creativity of your own, small world.

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Despite the howling of its storms, winter is a time of deep quiet. Even before the snow flies, the stillness begins to creep in as many of the region’s birds take to the skies in search of warmer climes, and the crickets and cicadas turn in for the year. Even the trees cease their endless whispering as their leaves fall to the ground to rustle quietly like the fading echoes of long ago conversations. And with the remnants of their foliage raiments scattered at their feet, the trees stand tall and naked, silently revealed truths silhouetted against the sky.

And then the snowflakes blanket the world in a white hush that  glitters like fallen stars, bringing not only quiet, but also the possibility of magic. I remember walking through snowy woods as a child, feeling like a character in one of my beloved fairytales. Transformed by winter’s artistry, the forest seemed a foreign place full of mystery. Stories called to me from the shadowy spaces under snow-laden fir trees and from around the corners in once familiar paths. My heart ran wild with the silver deer of my imagination, their jeweled antlers shining darkly against the newly white world.

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More than any other season, winter still holds this sense of magic and “otherness” for me. Despite the whirlwind of the holidays and the ceaselessly churning world of business, winter manages to provide a much-needed respite from the usual grind. And it is in these spaces between storms that I find I am most inspired to write. The transformation of the world under its layer of icy frosting invites me to step outside my usual routines and thoughts into a many-storied world of endless possibilities. The quiet clears my head, replacing the din of distractions with a contemplative space that invites introspection. The cold and snow make it easy to hide away from the rest of the world, snuggled into a pocket of personal creativity where I am warmed as much by my imagination as I am by my hot tea.

Winter strikes a sharp contrast between comfort and survival. It strips the world bare, leaving us exposed to our own frailties, but it also heightens our appreciation of  the simple pleasures of hearth and home. Let the storm rage, I say. We have stories to tell.

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Shareworthy:

book brene vulnerabilityI have been listening to Brene Brown’s book, The Power of Vulnerability on Audible. It’s the first of her books that I’ve read, despite the fact that friends have been raving about her for years. Now I know why.

Brown calls herself a “researcher/storyteller.” She began her work studying shame, a topic that didn’t earn her any popularity points on the speaking circuit, but eventually realized that what she was really studying was vulnerability. Though her work does not deal comprehensively or exclusively with creativity, it includes some important revelations about the importance of play, rest, and creative endeavors, and it also dives fearlessly into a deep exploration of the feelings, beliefs, and behaviors that keep us from living “whole heartedly.”

The audio, featuring Brown, was recorded at a live workshop. Though the topic is heavy and complex, Browns’s down-to-earth delivery is as entertaining and humorous as it is enlightening. For a taste of her work (and her style), you might take twenty minutes to watch her 2010 TEDTalk:

I have a feeling I will eventually share more thoughts about how Brown’s work intersects with our creative urges and courage, but – for now – I’ll just leave you with a heartfelt recommendation for this book. I’m already trying to decide which of her other books to read next!

And let’s not forget the blogs. Here are a few of my favorite writerly posts from this week:

Finally, a quote for the week:

In the wake of the nightmarish news coming in from Paris and other places around the world, the pursuit of art can feel small and unimportant; but art is necessary. It is an outlet for our pain and fears. It helps us connect with others and with our own feelings. It reminds us that there is good and hope and beauty in the world, even when life seem full of cruelty and darkness. My heart goes out to the people of Paris, and to everyone around the world who suffers. None of us can single-handedly save the world, but each of us can engage in small acts of kindness, and – just as importantly – continue to create the art that only we can create. The world needs it.

pin art consoles

Close … 
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Jamie Lee Wallace Hi. I’m Jamie. I am a content marketer and branding consultant, columnist, sometime feature writer, prolific blogger, and aspiring fiction writer. I’m a mom, a student of equestrian and aerial arts (not at the same time), and a nature lover. I believe in small kindnesses, daily chocolate, and happy endings. Introduce yourself on Facebooktwitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. I don’t bite … usually.
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33 thoughts on “Weekend Edition – The Season of the Writer

  1. This was such a cozy post describing the different shades of winter … Snowflakes blanketing your world, heightening your appreciation of simple pleasures of hearth and home, it being a season of storytellers and you I your Ziploc bag of Cheerios. Dude you brought me there!! I was hanging onto my cup of tea, wrapped in my hand-knitted blanket my aunt gave me. I was there with you … Storyteller Season I LOVE IT! Here in California it’s Coppertone 45 weather all year long, except in the evening in December when it may plummet down to the 50s … Oooooooh 🙂 but either way it’s cold for me and it’s soup weather and definitely Storyteller Season 🙂 and I haven’t read Brene Brown yet but like you I’ve heard great things, on the list 🙂 and I did want to thank you for that winter escape as it did momentarily take me away from a sad place … the tragedy that’s happening in Paris definitely just unbelievable. Hope you are well.

    • I am glad if my descriptions and recollections gave you a little bit of an escape from the reality of your own, rather warmer weather. 🙂 Happy to oblige.

      I hope you get some chilly nights soon. If you do read Brene’s work, I’d love to hear what you think.

      Thanks for coming by!

  2. This was a beautiful post. So descriptive. When you talk about retreating into your den with your journal and pencils it made me picture where I like to write and read. I feel like I can really connect with this post because I am also living in New England and although I love the warmth and the beach, the winter is one of my favorites. I love the way you describe the quietness and stillness of everything and how it’s one of your favorite times to write. It’s so calming and just a feeling that I can’t explain. I’m so glad that I read your post. Beautifully written!

    • Thank you so much! I’m glad you’re glad that you read my post, too. 😉

      New England winters really are something special. They can mean a lot of disruptions to our daily lives, extra work, and a healthy dose of inconvenience; but I love them anyway. I love the way the jostle us out of our complacency while also inviting us to lean into unexpected pockets of quiet solitude. Old Man Winter is a tricky fella, no doubt.

      Thanks for being here!

      • You’re welcome! They really are something special and you have a beautiful way with words and describing New England winters. I read the post out loud to my boyfriend too and he thought it was great!

  3. For me, summer is a lot better time for me to write than winter. I feel as if there’s not enough sun during the winter. Also, I often equate summer with no school and writing time and winter with school and omg, less writing time.

    • I hear you, but as a mom, summer and no school mean I’m more on-the-clock than ever – doing double duty as a freelance writer, a mom, and a coordinator for all my daughter’s summer activities. We parents do a happy dance when September rolls around and school brings some routine back to our days. 😉

      Still, winter also comes with snow days. My goal for this year is to manage my workload so that I can take time off to enjoy snow days properly. I missed out big time last year, but this year I’m hoping to be able to enjoy them alongside my daughter.

  4. Because we are entering the hottest period of our year writing is often hard. Too much desire to go for a swim etc. I’m glad you mentioned the atrocities in France in your blog. Yes indeed I agree…pursuit of beauty and art is one way to pour hope and love into the world. As a Christian I am passionately now more certain that it is EVIL fuelling all the chaos. Why? Really time to ask this question. What is TRUTH? What is deception? From what source does it come? Like reading your blog. Thank you.

    • Hello, Faye.
      I meant to say something to our friends in the southern hemisphere, but I forgot. It’s always been kind of fascinating to me that while we’re gearing up for snow and ice, our friends on the other side of the world are hankering to hit the swimming hole. Technology has brought us all closer together, and yet we remain seasons apart. It’s kind of neat. 😉

      Hope you manage to stay cool.
      And, yes, my heart goes out to the people of Paris, and the many others around the world who are enduring atrocities and painful circumstances.

    • You have the best way of putting things, Andrew … “winter sport.” Now I feel like I should be lined up at the starting line, waiting for the firing of the starter pistol. “And – they’re off! Andrew pulls into an early lead and makes a beautiful maneuver around that bit of writer’s block on the course. Nicely done, Mr. Reynolds!”
      😉

  5. Sadly we don’t get proper winters where I live. It’s unseasonally warm outside even now and we usually get barely any snow, but I love snuggling up under a blanket with a good book and some tea and am looking forward to doing just that! I’ll just imagine there’s snow outside ^^

    • Sorry Mother Nature doesn’t bring you the real stuff, but since you’re a writer, your imagination should help you create your own, personal snow storm. And maybe one of those classic holiday movies could help you along!

      Happy snuggling and reading!

    • How lovely that writing has, in a way, transformed winter for you. That’s so special.
      I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for being here.
      🙂

  6. Enjoy your post especially this sentence, “And then the snowflakes blanket the world in a white hush that glitters like fallen stars, bringing not only quiet, but also the possibility of magic” Love it!

  7. I enjoyed your post, Jamie. It was real inspiring. I love winter too. I love snow. My favorite past time when winter arrives, is to drink hot cocoa with those little mini-marshmallows in it. This season is a good time for reflection and writing (or working on) those books you dream of.

    My favorite line in this post is this:

    “The transformation of the world under its layer of icy frosting invites me to step outside my usual routines and thoughts into a many-storied world of endless possibilities.”

    I look forward to reading more of your posts.

  8. I also lay on my bed with a cosy blanket with a hot mug of coffee with me. But when I write and feel the touch of soft snow on my face the sensation is quite amazing. I sit under trees and work. I liked your post very much.

    • I love the image of a writer sitting under a tree, the snowflakes gently falling onto skin and paper alike. Sounds inspiring, indeed.

      So glad you liked the post. Thanks for being here.

  9. Hi Jamie, again the contrast between our seasons is stark…it hit 40 deg Celsius today (about 100 F) and was still, heavy and cloying. Good for the river :).
    I’m glad you like winter…me too. You might as well enjoy it – it’s coming anyway! I have an image of you so clearly, like a cat, in the best spot in the house, softness underneath, books to your left, snacks and a heater at your feet. Can it get more perfect?

  10. Pingback: Weekend Edition – Why I Blog, One Writer’s Convoluted Tale | Live to Write – Write to Live

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