Wednesday, February 3, 2016

On Groundhogs, Hibernation & the Creative Life

Last year – 2015 – I took a break. Not a break from writing, a break from school visits/presentations/etc. I decided to hibernate.

There were lots of reasons for this. Mostly, it was a way to reconnect with my truest self: I'm a quiet, introverted person. I am much more comfortable anonymous in a crowd than on a stage. I enjoy time with my family, time alone, and time feeding my creative spirit.

It was a very good year. One of the best ever. I wrote – and sold – three new books. I traveled to Europe. I learned to play the cello. I cooked beautiful meals. And so much more! THIS is how I want to live, I said to myself again and again. Writing. Not talking about writing. WRITING.

And while I am doing the opposite of hibernate this year as I deliver two new books to the world, I am still carrying with me some of that serenity. I am enjoying my time connecting with readers in a less-stressed way. And I am still writing, though not nearly so much.

Which brings me to that famous groundhog. In the movie GROUNDHOG'S DAY, the Bill Murray character relives the same day over and over until he finally gets it right. O the poetry of repetition!

The groundhog hibernates and comes out again every single year. Not a one-time occurrence, or a full-time occurrence. Seasonal. For whatever reason, this brings me comfort. Last year was a season of hibernation for me. This year is a season of public activity. Neither is forever, and I will get back to each of them in due time.

My creative life continues to be nourished by new habits and revelations I picked up when I participated in THE ARTIST'S WAY group last year. I've spent far too much of my creative life in the past focused on the end-product. These days I am attached to this idea of myself as always beginning – kind of like Bill Murray in the movie. Even hibernation is a way to begin.

Irene Latham is a poet and novelist from Birmingham, Alabama. Her books for children include Leaving Gee's Bend, Don't Feed the Boy, Dear Wandering Wildebeest, and two new poetry collections When the Sun Shines On Antarctica and Fresh Delicious: Poems from the Farmers' Market. She's grateful for the ever-changing writing seasons.


  1. Love that movie Irene and the idea of restarting and beginning anew.

  2. Creative writing can be done by practice but most are struggle to share their content with outside world. Here it comes true.

  3. This is fantastic. What a great '15 you had!

  4. Love the idea of nourishing your creative life! (And I adore your writing, Irene!)