Monday, February 6, 2012

Winter gifts

We are trying to keep a hibiscus plant from last summer alive inside our dry, not-very-bright house this winter. The plant has dropped a number of leaves but still has some green and yesterday when we passed it on the stair landing it offered this one gift--a huge bright bloom for these gray days of February. (I find myself making extra trips up and down the stairs just to have another look.)

This hibiscus gift made me think of other gifts and of a writer I know who often starts each writing session by setting down what she is grateful for.

That's a good way to start--just to remind ourselves what is already good about our lives (like good coffee, or sledding with grandkids in winter, red flowers that come unbidden, family who know us--and still love us and laugh with us, friends who also often show up unbidden with a hug or a few good words, good books ).

And speaking of books I have been reading The Scene Book A Primer for the Fiction Writer by Sandra Scofield (Penguin, 2007). She says in the introduction, "As writers practice their skills, their talent flowers."

And she says, "This is my advice: 1. Think of yourself as a worker. 2. Show up at your job."

And I haven't even started chapter 1. Fiction and non-fiction writing require an awareness of scene-building so I am excited to be going into this book this winter.

Another book that seems like a winter gift is the new picture book Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett (illustrated by Jon Klassen of I Want My Hat Back). A girl named Annabelle lives in a monochromatic world until she finds a box of bright-colored yarn that never seems to run out. She knits sweaters for everyone she knows, and just about everything she sees--even a sweater for a pick-up truck (which reminds me of a knitting joke from my college days when it was said that someone was such a good knitter that she knitted a chicken). Of course there's a wrinkle--an evil Duke tries to convince Annabelle to sell the incredible box of yarn--for a million dollars. But she won't (how rare is that!). And even when the Duke steals the yarn, there's just the right amount of magic.

Good books, good friends, family, good coffee, and the occasional flower. I hope your winter is good, too, and there is some surprising extra.

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