The Arbor Vitae 2013

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Jean's Blog (Check out links to Guest Blogs in lefthand Column)

The February Blues

February 3, 2015

Tags: hibernating, writing, groundhog day, John Gardner, Stephen King



Painting by Joyce Mosseri
available for purchase


Snow, ice, wind, storms, sleet and bone-chilling cold. That has been the recipe so far for this bitter winter. Even the stoics are shaken. For hibernating creatures such as myself, the days stretch, unwinding opportunity as I sit and contemplate the blank screen of my computer.
Groundhog Day came and went with no clarification as to how long this weather will hold us prisoner. The three warring groundhogs of the Northeast could not arrive at a consensus, so - weary sigh - we either have an early spring or five more weeks of winter.
I planned to hibernate, but I did expect to be able to poke my nose out of my burrow now and then to sniff the air.
Meanwhile, my life as a writer is taking me by surprise. I am learning that having made a commitment to my characters and the story they are weaving, everything I hear, see and read measures itself subconsciously against them. Everything around me feeds into my story. I am working internally far more than I expected and I am loving the process. My characters are growing wings and flying on their own. Only time will tell if their wings take their story into the minds and hearts of readers. They have made it into mine.
If anyone reading this is an aspiring fiction writer, I strongly recommend John Gardner's fantastic book, "On Becoming a Novelist." Along with Stephen King's engaging book on writing, it has spun a web of very useful insights into the process and reach of the imagination and its relationship to writing fiction, to creativity, and truth.
Other books have been somewhat helpful, but these two set my feet firmly on a path I am treading with wonder and delight, breathing in the air of discovery and marveling at the view, all the while hibernating and waiting for spring.




Building My Winter Burrow

October 1, 2014

Tags: Winter Burrow, High Holidays, fall, squirrels, hibernating, winter

A Hibernated World

The months of early Fall whirl into focus amidst the beauty and turbulence of a rising wind dancing the leaves, and the pressures and pleasures of the High Holidays. These months also bring echoes of my losses. My two beloved maternal grandparents died during the High Holidays many years ago. My father died on the second night of Rosh Hashana in 1971, my mother last October. It is difficult not to view this time of year without a creeping apprehension that goes beyond a fear of the ice and cold to follow, the possibility of a winter as long and hard as the last one.
But as we come to terms with grey skies and the sudden assault of a day of wind and chill reminding us that summer is past, along with the squirrels, the woodchucks, the chipmunks, and the bears, we, too, set about building our winter burrows. Only our burrows are built of schedules and commitments, school routines for the young and their parents, shorter days, more demands, and a pace to match.
I have always known that I am a hibernating animal at heart, longing to curl up in warmth and sleep the winter away while others ski the slopes and run in marathons. This year I plan to let that hibernating creature take over.
To that end, I am now busy gathering my acorns and nuts, renovating my environment, whittling down my commitments and possessions to an organized clarity, preparing to use the winter to focus on my new book from the comfort of my home. I have tucked away as many distractions as possible, and have filled the shelves of my writing room with books relevant to the period and location I plan to explore in my novel. I am warning all my near and dear that my transitional year will end when January begins.
Small flares of the energy building in my subconscious are already bursting to the surface, and when they do, I write their messages down. But in my hibernation to come, I will open myself to doing the nothing that leads to something when it contemplates a blank computer monitor day after day after day, while nature rages outside the window.
Maybe the winter will bring cabin fever and nothing more. Maybe the pages I hope to write will never reach out into the world, but no matter how it goes, I am resolute.
If not now, when...?


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