While I was at work yesterday, my daughters washed and latched storm windows on the kitchen windows. They also biked in the season’s first snow, baked a chocolate cream pie from Pie which the younger daughter is reading, argued, played memory games, and spread out a rug in front of the wood stove as an official opening to the wood stove/snow season. Already, the piles of games and books and knitting are growing in uneven piles on that rug.
As my own book nears its publication date, I’m pushed to speak more about how I came to write this book, and why. In my own busy household that mixes children and rural Vermont, what’s increasingly clear to me is that writing is a human activity as essential to our lives as stocking your root cellar or bank account or however you do it for the long, colder season ahead. Our culture emphasizes material gain above pretty much everything else, but, really, at the day’s end, there’s little else of relevance besides stretching your bare toes toward a hot fire, with the children nearby, and the windows buttoned up against the growing dark and cold.
The society to which we belong seems to be dying or is already dead. I don’t mean to sound dramatic, but clearly the dark side is rising. Things could not have been more odd and frightening in the Middle Ages. But the tradition of artists will continue no matter what form the society takes. And this is another reason to write: people need us, to mirror for them and for each other without distortion – not to look around and say, “Look at yourselves, you idiots!,” but to say, “This is who we are.”
Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird