Dani Shapiro
December 21, 2008

On Snow Days

There’s writing and then there’s living. Can the two possibly be compatible? I know what Thoreau would say. Thoreau went to Walden “…to transact some private business with the fewest ostacles.” Thoreau apparently didn’t have snow days–at least not the kind you have when you’re a mom. We’re in the midst of a two-day blizzard and the land around our house is a winter wonderland. Our windows are caked with snow. Yesterday, while I was practicing yoga, I kept catching glimpses, out of those snow-caked windows, of Jacob barreling downhill on his new sled, the puppy chasing him all the way down to the woods. I stood there, grinning. The boy and his pup. The fire crackling in the fireplace. The day’s plans to go to various holiday parties–canceled. Nothing but the snow. I baked cookies for two days running. (Note to self: black and white cookies–Jacob’s choice–are better bought in the bakery. They took four hours!)

And yet…the manuscript of Devotion is languishing on my desk. I can feel the pressure of it building inside of me. Days away from my work cost me dearly–finding my way back inside requires an effort so intense it feels physical. I want to stay connected to my book, to my work, to the inner mosaic of it–and yet how do I do that, on these snow days? There is the push of one, the pull of the other. Balance–all working mothers know this–is elusive. But particularly for writers, striving for that balance can feel impossible. After all, the work is right there, so tantalizingly close at hand, and not off in some office that’s already closed up for the holidays.

All I know is this: at some point, the snow will stop falling. The boy will grow up and lose interest in sleds and puppies. The book will be finished. As will the next one, and the next–God willing. I will not bend as far in tree pose, nor swing myself up into handstands. This moment–this blizzard to usher out 2008–is here now. And it would be a shame not to take it all in.