Monday, March 10, 2014

Happy in the Mud by Cheryl Harper

Sunshine. Sixty degrees. And mud everywhere I look. This makes me happy. As recently as Thursday, while I was digging my car out of the snow from an ill-fated grocery run, I was pretty sure I would never live to see grass again. It’s been a long winter. Ever since the first week of December, I’ve alternated periods of being snowed in with periods of dreading being snowed in again. But now I have mud everywhere and it thrills me, rejuvenates my spirit, makes me want to write, and generally helps me breathe again. Because things are changing.

It’s not that I hate winter. Right now, I’m over it. Totally. But the same thing that makes sixty degrees feel like an awesome heat wave will make it seem a blessed cool snap in October. I appreciate the change from season to season.

That’s something that I have to figure out how to embrace in the rest of my life. There, in the day to day of living, change and I are not dancing partners. I like stability, knowing what comes next, planning ahead, and arriving early. But with a writing career as with most of real, unpredictable life, that’s a tough thing to do. Here are some things that I have discovered to always be true:

Writers are great, fun, helpful people. I’ve found this to be true in every group I’ve been lucky to enter and count it as one of the best perks of the job. (see the Heartwarming Goodreads group for evidence: Click here!) Published, unpublished, starting out, or taking over, I’ve met some great people. And talking over your bad day with someone who has just the right one-liner to make you smile can make a difference. Also, writers are pretty good with one-liners. The real challenge is giving back as much as I’ve received.

I HEART BOOKS. Still. Always. In February I went to the Adventures in Fiction reader event in Dallas and had an awesome chance to put on my fan girl shoes. I don’t know if I’ll ever be cool enough to be unaffected when I meet writers who create my favorite books in person.

Readers rock. As the stereotypical introvert, I have to give myself a lot of internal pep talks about trying something new. Whether it’s a book signing or a new conference, I always walk away with a surge of optimism. Always. Readers never disappoint. We love books. We always have something to talk about. The enthusiasm is contagious.

I love writing. No matter what kind of season I’m in, one thing never changes: when the first glimmer of a new story to tell shows up, I’m in love with storytelling again and forever. It’s the warmth that melts the snow to show green shoots of a new beginning.
So having said all that, a word of my own encouragement: If you’re still snowed in, HANG ON. Spring is coming. I have the muddy paw prints all over my house to prove it.

12 comments:

  1. Cheryl, so many things you said are my feelings, except I really don't like cold and winter. My two daughters both had to move away from Arizona because they were 4-seasons people. I keep wondering how it's possible that I brought two kids into the world who love snow. Summer and Fall are my favorite times of year. I think it's good we're not all alike or one corner of the world would be top heavy with people. Glad for you that you're seeing mud and loving it.

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    1. Thanks, Roz! The only season I dread is summer because heat and I are not compatible, but last week I was dreaming of hot sunshine.

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  2. I'm originally from Nebraska and sometimes miss the snow. Then, I go home in winter and realize I don't mind seeing it just two or three times a winter. I'm in AZ with Roz. I can get to snow in a 40 minute drive LOL then turn around and go back to sunshine. Love the ending with the paw prints of mud.

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    1. That sounds like the best of every world actually!

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  3. I love your positive attitude because I am SOOOOO over winter. I also am dreading the mud that will soon follow. I'm in Chicago and we still have plenty of snow on the ground. Spring is my favorite season. I love all the green and then the pop of color that comes when the flowers bloom. It makes me smile every day because there is always something new! I'll try to think of the mud as my precursor to green. I'll TRY ;)

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  4. Hi, Cheryl! The dog looks like the kind of friend from whom you'd tolerate muddy paw prints . What's his (her?) name? You sound as though you've been inoculated with Spring, and that it'll protect you from depression or anxiety even if it does snow again. We have four seasons in Oregon, but they're relatively mild in comparison to the midwest and the east. It's seldom above 72 in the summer, and we get one or two snowfalls in the winter. Pretty perfect. We have to deal with a lot of rain, but it makes everything green and smells like heaven. And you're right about those writers we love giving us a new lease on life when we settle down with their books. I'm reading FANCY PANTS, a really old Susan Elizabeth Phillips book I couldn't get around to at the time, and am loving it. And feeling renewed.

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    1. His name is Jack. He is definitely the kind of friend who can leave a little mud scattered because I wouldn't trade him for the world. If I ever relocate it will be to your neck of the woods. I went to Portland for a business trip and took a week off to drive all over, went to Astoria, drove down the coast, and I fell in love. Such a beautiful place!

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    2. I like his looks. And the hero in the book I'm working on is 'Jack.' Astoria is wonderful. I wish I could scoop everyone up her for a weekend on the river. We have to work on that.

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  5. I'm sure your doggy is excited about spring too!

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  6. Wonderful sentiments. Thank you for passing them on.

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  7. Great post, Cheryl. I'm dealing with muddy paw prints too ;) lol. Can't wait to see the first tulips bloom!

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