It is only the Tenth of October, but this morning (at almost nine thousand feet up) there are two inches of snow on the ground, and we are enveloped in a cloud. The air is misty, blue white, with every limb of every tree sleeved with brittle white ice. The temperature is hovering at thirty-two degrees, and it’s snowing, a fine drift of superfine bits that I have to look hard to see. No question: winter has come to my forest. A good thing we got new snow tires yesterday.
But how does the weather affect my writing?
To be closed in makes me want to stay hovered over my writing desk, to focus on the new plot, to think through yet again what I’m trying to do, to tell, to bring to life. But in fact, my current project is at an impasse. I’m standing still. I’m not sure where to go. The truth is, I’m rather lost.
So, since, it is very beautiful out there, the thought of wandering through a forest shrouded in mist, is far more tempting than anything I can write.
Because I have a memory of being lost.
One day I went out for a walk in the woods, and bid my big dog, McKinley (an Alaskan Malamute) to come with me. At the time the summer foliage was thick, and we dipped down into a little vale, so that I suddenly could no longer see the mountain peaks by which I navigated my walk. I realized I had no idea where I was. Though I knew (intellectually) I was no more than a mile from my home, I felt a shot of panic. I didn’t know where I was. I didn’t know which direction was home. I was lost.
I turned to McKinley. “Go home!” I told him.
He looked at me quizzically, clearly thinking (and puzzled) that I was telling him I no longer wanted his loving company. I adjusted my words. “Go find home, McKinley,” I told him. “Go on!”
He started off, stopped, and looked back. When he saw me following, he went forward. Like the superior being he was (rather like a parent leading a child,) he kept going, but every few feet he paused, wagged his tail, and checked that I was still coming. It didn’t take long for him to lead me home.
What does this have to do with writing?
Sometimes (and it happens quite often) I’m not sure how to go forward. And while the dilemma is never far from my mind I’ve learned that it’s just best to relax, go for walk, and acknowledge that I am stuck. Then I can depend on my instincts, or better yet, my dog’s instincts, to lead me in the direction I want to go.
Readers often think writers know where they are going. All I can say, in my case, I more often have to discover where I’m heading. Wandering through winter’s white forest can help. Doing nothing can achieve much. Being lost is often the best way to get home.