I always consider September to be the start of the new year. I don’t know why. I see the bursting of flame in the trees to be the start. As the leaves turn orange and red and gold, on their way to slowly dying, the new year begins.
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf,
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day
Nothing gold can stay. ~ ROBERT FROST
Well, leaf is subsiding to leaf in Ontario right now. It’s only just begun, but the experts among us can recognize the signs. Autumn is entering our world. We try to harness its beauty, even as we try to ignore the fact it will be followed by the extreme bleakness of winter. We try to hold on to the dying, because we intrinsically know that nothing gold can stay. Autumn is an extreme beauty that teaches us the fleeting nature of time itself. Maybe this is why I feel that September is the beginning. Maybe the death of nature is simply more important than the birth of nature. Autumn is an event that causes me to pause and take stock.
HOW DO YOU MEASURE A YEAR IN THE LIFE?
The year in the life of this writer did NOT see a lot of writing. But, man, I’ve been percolating like crazy. But BUM IN CHAIR writing? Not so much. I’ve been laying the groundwork. I’ve been erecting the scaffolding, as it were.
I actually had a great year. I had another play produced for Driftwood Theatre’s Trafalgar24 event, my agent sold TWO of my novels to a new publisher, I mentored at the Ontario Writers’ Conference, I almost completed another novel and I began another one at this year’s Muskoka Novel Marathon. As a writer, once you get momentum, your accomplishments tend to bleed into future years. Things you did three or four years ago begin to pay off in THIS year. I’m grateful for the two upcoming releases, and they make me feel like I’ve accomplished something, but both of them are things of the past for me. It’s an odd dichotomy. Writers can stand still and continue to have things going on around them that make them appear to be doing something. That’s me this year.
So, as the leaves start their quick descent into darkness, we reflect on the previous year and we try to imagine where the next year will take us.
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. ~ Dylan Thomas
We cannot fathom death waiting for us in the new year, for we rage rage against the dying of the light. We begin a year with only hope. Hope for greater things than those the previous year have given us. In truth, it’s going to be hard to imagine a better year than the one I just had. I did some bucket list culling this past year. And it was all in the guise of collecting grist for the writing mill. I walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain with pilgrim leader Sue Kenney, in hopes of writing about it. I took THE LEFTBANK WRITERS RETREAT IN PARIS, in hopes of knowing the city I have loved from afar for an entire lifetime. Why? So that I may write about it. I have lived vicariously through Ernest Hemingway’s A MOVEABLE FEAST for decades. I have MAD love for that book! I walked in Hemingway’s footsteps this past June. For the cause, I told myself. For writing. The Leftbank Writers Retreat is actually Hemingwaycentric. Darla Worden, along with her amazing faculty Sarah Suzor and Travis Cebula, builds the retreat around Hemingway’s life in Paris. It’s a beautiful week of sightseeing and writing in one of the most gorgeous cities in the world. If you want to do one special thing for your writing journey next year, take Darla’s journey of Paris. It will change you forever.
This coming year is going to see a continuation in my arc of change. Hopefully, it also sees a rebirth in my dedication to prose. I have harvested such a bountiful crop of experience. I’m ready to parlay these experiences into stories. I have no idea what I will do with these experiences, but I do know that words and thoughts and ideas are percolating. I look forward to continuing on this writer’s journey. I hope to have some of you join me along the way.
Canadian writer Pierre Berton once said, “MY BEST ADVICE TO WRITERS IS GET YOURSELF BORN IN AN INTERESTING PLACE.”
My advice would be to make the place you were born in interesting. And if you can’t do that, there’s a whole world out there just waiting for you to discover. Explore it. Carry the words of this world with you wherever you may go. Write to share the love you see around you. And rage, rage against the dying of the light…