Here in Australia it’s coming up to Winter Solstice: time for reflection, time to take stock. The cold days make me want to snuggle down wrapped in woollies, with a dog or two on either side, and immerse myself in a good book. Midwinter is time for us to let our minds rest and regroup – the fallow period when the tree stands quiet, preparing for spring’s sudden burst of life.
We don’t all live out in wild nature, of course, nor are most of us as closely attuned to the seasonal cycles of our environment as we might be. The pressures of daily life can crowd us so closely we hardly give a thought to those cycles and the way they are reflected in the patterns of our own bodies. Instead of allowing a natural winter slow-down, for instance, you might be racing to meet a writing deadline, putting in long days at your desk, gulping cup after cup of coffee to stay awake against the insistent tug of sleep. Fuelled by artificial means. Not listening to your body. No wonder you feel jittery and off balance.
It would be deeply satisfying to be able to go with that seasonal flow, to rest and think out a new project over winter, to begin serious work on it as the leaf buds swell and the days grow warmer, to bring it to fruition in summer under clear skies, and to prune, shape and perfect it as the leaves are falling, in the traditional harvest time. I see it now: a great bonfire, with fireworks, to celebrate the completion of the year-long project!
Sadly, the publishing schedule seldom allows such a natural workflow. Deadlines do not always fall conveniently in late autumn. And writers who live in small city apartments may have to content themselves with symbolic bonfires. But you might take a leaf or two from the druid’s book all the same. Let’s look at our creative process as the turning of a year. [Read more…]