At first I thought it was a typo, or dyslexia, or a poorly rendered statement of the obvious – it is December, after all. And though “winter month” did somehow make sense, “winter moth” is what I actually read. Having learned up on it, I decided that the winter moth will be my “totem animal” for at least the next few weeks. Normally, I’m not one for totems or animals (and most weeks, though especially in Spring). All of them seem too fleeting, or require too much care or… You get it, I’m a curmudgeon not easily enchanted by precious notions – especially those my colleagues think “writerly.” And lately, the concept of “totem animals” has been coming up far too frequently. Like when a waiter explained to me that his new pad was going to help transform him into a writer because spiders were his totem animal and – guess what? – the place was infested with spiders. I inwardly cringed. Not because of the spiders but because, what the fuck, right? If that’s the crux of his plan, the dude stands a better chance of being bit by a radioactive “totem animal” and becoming Spider-Man than becoming a writer. And, ironically, Spider-Man’s day job is being photographer, not a writer. So, ha.
Anyway, I misread “winter moth” somewhere and the bug resonated with me. I figured out why – sometime in Fall the pre-moth caterpillars burrow into the ground and don’t emerge until the end of November as fully-realized moths. Then they get all their moth business (mating and dying) done by January. Having just completed NaNoWriMo, I feel about the same – like I’ve just arisen from the earth with wings but raggedy, tweed-colored ones. Also, I’m “strictly nocturnal and attracted to light and females,” or so says Wikipedia.
I’m at a point in my career when, like my newfound totem animal, I want to behave like an invasive species and wreak havoc in other genres and media. Winter is as good a time to incubate as any. That’s incubate not hibernate. When I wake up, I hope to be something different, hoary, weird and moth-eaten. Or, you know, more so.