Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Snow Day

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This is my puppy, Harley, who is still not sure about snow days.

Today, I am taking a snow day. I tried, unsuccessfully, for two hours to get to the Mod Club to see heavy metal legend Doro perform last night, but after a complete travel disaster caused by dangerous road conditions and a bomb threat at Dundas Station, I gave up and went home. Outside, the snow is still coming down. My partner has shovelled the walk three times this morning. Every time we take the puppy out to pee, she looks at us like we're complete crazy to make her go outside when we have a perfectly serviceable tile floor in the kitchen.

I started off treating this day like an ordinary work day -- after all, for freelancers, weather means very little. I attended a Skype meeting, dutifully dealt with my email, I planned out the rest of my day.

But then, a magical thing happened: I looked at my to-do list and it started to evaporate. Almost everything there was small, easily accomplished or rolled into larger tasks. I worked through it effortlessly. Now, working on this blog post, I am planning in taking the rest of today as a snow day.

I am not very good at relaxing. I have an anxiety disorder, one that is appeased by constant activity and aggravated by too much down time. Also, as the captain of my own ship and master of my own fate career-wise, if I don't work and I don't hustle then I don't get paid. The motivation to work every available hour of ever day in incredibly tempting. What time doesn't get devoted with work I tend to fill with social commitments: drinks with friends, seeing shows, going to events. I joke that I don't sleep so much as collapse, but it's not exactly an untruth either.

But sometimes, the universe gives you a little push, an incentive to take some time and leave it empty. Maybe you find yourself felled by a mild cold, or a few appointments are cancelled in a row, or 25 centimetres of snow suddenly falls in your neighbourhood. As much as it is important to stay active and creatively manage your time, it is equally important to take the hint, change into your most comfortable clothes, and embrace rest when the opportunity arises.

While I never find myself suffering from a lack of words or a dearth of potential projects to take on, sometimes it is important to stay quiet for a day or two. It's important to let your reserves, both of energy and inspiration, become full again. It is necessary to become quiet until the need, the desire to write returns, rather than being driven all the time by necessity or habit or compulsion.

Don't ever let your writing muscles get our of shape or let your mind stay fallow for too long, but every now and again, taking a much needed break is so important. Make another cup of tea. Watch a season of your favourite television show. Listen to some records. Take a snow day.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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Natalie Zina Walschots

Natalie Zina Walschots is a music writer, poet and editor based in Toronto. She writes for a number of publications, both in print and online. Natalie's second book of poetry, DOOM: Love Poems For Supervillains, was published by Insomniac Press in the Spring of 2012.

Go to Natalie Zina Walschots’s Author Page