It's grey outside, and rainy. Cold, too, with snow in the forecast. Not today, but the next three days. It won't stick, I know, but still. Snow, and no sign of green or bud.
Winter is worse in February, of course, where the snow does stick, where my eyes freeze shut when I walk the dog. But that is February, and while I dislike that cold, it's this part of winter, when it has gone on far too long, when it seems like spring never will arrive, when I think seriously of buying a plane ticket I can't afford to my parents' in New Hampshire - New Hampshire! - because it will feel like spring there, where winter hurts. I am depleted. There is nothing left.
Through much of this winter, I have been working on a book. Rewriting it, so that I could show it to beta readers, and now revising it. I am pretty much immersed in the process - I occasionally surface to faff about on twitter, or do other work, or buy groceries, or walk Sam, but mostly, it's me and the pages, and I don't get to come out until they're all good.
They will be. Soon.
I get bad at taking care of myself when I'm this deep in a project. I forget that coffee is not the only food. I don't return phone calls or emails. I cancel plans. I become like winter, grey and clinging, and no new green or flowers.
Winter is not a good season to live in, creatively. You discover there is nothing left.
We learn, as writers, as artists, as people who make things, how to make our own spring. For me, much of that creative spring is found in the art of others - books and poetry and music and photography, and all the different things that help me see the beauty and the strangeness in the world. That make a space in my head where mystery can live. Which sounds very "let the muse come," but it isn't that. It's the artistic equivalent of taking care of myself, of remembering that vegetables are a food, and that I'll feel much better if I go for a run. If I don't remember to look outside of myself, I become like winter.
I am ready for the thaw.