Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Breaking Records

And just when I was complaining about January, February hit. In Pittsburgh, we're inches away from breaking all records for the snowiest month since they started keeping track. This photo shows my street after only the first two days. That was about 21 inches, 13 days ago. We're at 38 inches today and it shows no sign of stopping or melting. Around town, electricity has been iffy, traffic has snarled into gridlock, roofs are collapsing. Down the street, a water pipe burst this morning. We haven't seen a snowplow on the street yet and probably won't. But we have seen folks on cross-country skis, and grrr. My skis are in Massachusetts as are the brand new snowshoes. Excellent timing.

In fact, it has been an excellent time. Hot soup with neighbors after shoveling, walks to the nearby market for supplies, hiking to campus for meetings with students, walking out at night to a nearby restaurant for an Italian dinner, all beautiful on foot. I didn't touch my car for 11 days and I really didn't miss it. Without all the usual distractions of outings and meetings and classes did cabin fever set in? Sure, a little bit. But there's a quick remedy for that--piling on the snow gear and going outside to enjoy the crisp cold air, the sculptural trees, the odd piles of snow on roofs.

For a writer, such a spell of quiet isolation is golden. When working forward in a manuscript, I try to compose one new chapter a day. Most days, I succeed. But during the past several days, I've averaged two chapters per day, occasionally more. I've also helped a writer friend (within walking distance) complete final edits on a manuscript and given feedback to others more distant via email. It is easy to let distractions rule one's life and when they disappear for a while, the day seems to grow extra hours. This is not to say I won't welcome tomorrow's meeting with colleagues at the university, for I will. You can spend only so much time in conversation with the made-up people in your fiction before turning loopy. Balance is all. And warm boots...