And in winter, the words automatically came to you. In summer, you had to face the blank page for a long time before the stream of words started moving. But the winter was rapids you had to tame and navigate. It was a beast of a different nature. While summer was about perseverance and writing with difficulty, winter was about curation since everything that happened in the slow months demanded to be recorded. The inner life was richer, there was always a moment of solace to sit and wonder about things only you could wonder about, and the coffee was always there. As soon as you ran out of a cup, you put the kettle to boil; all this warmth was a response to how cold it felt otherwise. It was my favourite time to write in the year, but having spent most of the year writing, I wondered if I had exhausted myself. But as I sat and wrote, I saw that the pipes were never clogged, and before I knew it, I had three good paragraphs. These were the better months.
I was reading in the sun earlier this afternoon, and then I remembered a language class from when I was still in school. We were studying a poem that talked about the beauty in the bucolic. Something that did not sit right with me then and does not sit right with me now was that the poet conveniently left out the ugliness. It made it seem unreal and larger than life, and so, curious as I was, I first raised my hand and then my concern with the teacher, who reprimanded me for asking a simple question and said: poetry is no place to talk about the ugliness of the world. I never understood why she took so much offence, almost as if she had written it herself. It is a problem with teachers and critics alike—they get too close to something they did not write.
I remind myself of this every winter since it is a time of curation, and as writers, we must always pick and choose our feelings. It is both a pleasure and a pain to do so, but we must never favour one emotion over the others, especially when doing so can make things inconvenient for those who have just begun writing and who have teachers who think there is no place for ugliness in it when pointing it out is, quite frankly, the description of the job.