Warming Up the Winter Writer

Ezra Pound had some unsavory racial and political views, but he did trot out some intriguing verse. The rhythms below from his “Winter Is Icummen In” are germane to today’s topic:

Winter is icummen in,
Lhude sing Goddamm,
Raineth drop and staineth slop,
And how the wind doth ramm!
Sing: Goddamm.

Skiddeth bus and sloppeth us,
An ague hath my ham,
Freezeth river, turneth liver,
Damn you, sing: Goddamm.

Goddamm, Goddamm, ’tis why I am, Goddamm,
So ‘gainst the winter’s balm.

Sing goddamm, damm, sing Goddamm,
Sing goddamm, sing goddamm, DAMM.

I couldn’t agree more (and have particular fondness for the line “An ague hath my ham”). As days grow short, I am seized by Seasonal Affective Disorder (also known as SAD, but I prefer “Goddamm”).The waning of the light curdles my thinking, and my liver turneth. I’m never far from a sour turn of mind anyway, finding a fellow traveler in the Woody Allen-as-child character in Annie Hall who tells his therapist “The universe is expanding—someday it will break apart and that would be the end of everything!”

I know just what he means.

So when the pall of low light strangles the sun, my ruminations naturally turn to thoughts of beloved pets that died cruelly, the knowledge that the price of stamps will spiral ever upward, and the notion that Newt Gingrich will in my lifetime be elected Emperor (and Sarah Palin will be his Moose Queen, you betcha).

Write Light
This time though, I’m not going to let that winter furze settle about my face and person. I will take Dylan Thomas’s adage to heart: Rage, rage against the dying of the light! Rather than wearing the clammy cloak, I’m going to toss it off and self-medicate. My prescription:

  • Read more Mark Twain, David Sedaris, Dave Barry (and maybe a bit more Mark Twain)
  • Put all political ads in the compost, unread
  • When the sun does come out, revel in it, drink it up, dance its warmth

In the last few weeks, I’ve returned to writing fiction, which is a warmth to me all its own. I’ve revived a novel that stalled a couple of years ago, and its lead character is a kind of hapless boob, though a well-meaning one. I had so much fun yesterday putting him in a dreadfully compromising position that I barely noticed the gathering clouds and low light of the late afternoon.

It’s storming here today, and the sky is a dark, roiling thing. Man, my protagonist is in for a heap of trouble.


6 thoughts on “Warming Up the Winter Writer

  1. Sometimes you are fairly Dylanesque; polishing one word with another; tossing one up, and shooting another through the hole in the center; pulling one, even, from behind my left ear.

    I have this dream where you present me with a signed copy of the story of this hapless boob. My favorite part is that nothing about him reminds me of me. Much.

    Winter darkens here; we dropped below freezing during daylight hours, and saw the tiniest flakes of something that wasn’t water falling from the sky.

    Though I know I’ll winter in Arizona, something in me sparks just a little when I ponder the mad rage of wintering through in Quebec.

    Earlier this week, though, I danced in the sun, and I know what I’ll do. Still . . .

  2. Sending you full spectrum bright light, oh seasonally-serotonin-challenged one!

    (If it makes you feel any better, rain-or-shine I ruminate about the possibility of a Newt-Sarah dynasty.)

  3. Joel, I just checked your snow shots—brrrrr! I don’t think I’m made for weather like that, though I do enjoy the incentive to drink warmed brandy or hot chocolate (with Bailey’s).

    If one-twentieth of my dribblings are Dylanesque, I can take the bulk of them being Stoogesque or Clunkesque.

    Keep up that sun dancing.

  4. Annie, thanks for the light touch. And there might be a post for a Sharp-eyed Sister of Sanity in the Newt-Sarah-Sarah organization, so keep your resume peeled.

  5. Tom, I’m a Dave Barry fan myself, but I must say I’ve seen much more meaning (combined with the humor) in your writing than his.

    Finish that novel. Take your time, polish all you want- but finish it!

  6. Rick, thank you for the nice words. Though in speaking of meaning I might tangentially offer, I probably should steal from Mr. Twain’s preface to Huckleberry Finn, where he states, “Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.”

    I AM working on the novel, albeit slowly, which I think is an approach that prevents that overwhelming sense of a novel’s vastness toppling a writer’s ambitions. In Gackian solidarity, TB

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