Thursday, November 9, 2023

As The World (Still) Turns, by Catriona

As the days grow shorter, do you find yourself writing more, or less, because of the difference in the season? Do the seasons affect your writing schedule, or ability, in other ways?

If only. Man, if I could be guided by the tilt of the earth toward and away from the sun, and write like a true Celt, Solstice to Equinox to Solstice again, that would be fantastic.

Because I am a Celt and I love the turn of the earth and the shape of the year, not just the Solstices and Equinoxes, but the Beltane and Samhain too (May Day and Halloween, roughly). The two worst things about moving from Scotland to California were:

  • Losing the long summer days and even longer winter nights. It still feels very strange to be in warm darkness at ten o'clock in June, instead squinting into a low sun, and it's a pure swizz to be able to see outside at five o'clock on a winter's afternoon night, with all the expectation of more work, some exercise and salad. I like winters where the wind can blow the fire out right down the chimney and you get cravings for mutton and barley. On the other hand, when the sun goes down here in June, we can see the moon Every. Single. Night. as it waxes and wanes.
  • Also the first few years I lived so far from that wee grey rock where I belong(ed), there were no other cues that the seasons were changing, to make up for the light staying much the same. I didn't know what spring smelled like, nor autumn, and I missed that ineffable change that makes your heart leap. Okay, it makes my heart leap. Then, after five years, I stepped outside one day and smelled the eucalyptus-inflected petrichor that meant summer was over. (In Scotland, it rarely stops raining long enough for the ground to dry out properly.) Likewise, a few months later, there was an earthy smell in the garden that I had encountered enough times to let my brain make the connection with spring.  
This was taken after nine pm in August

There are some great things about the shape of the year here too, besides recognition and the moon. Here are my top three:

  • The holiday season lasts from Thanksgiving all the way through to Burn's Night - two whole months in a good year like this one - because my friends have generously added me to Turkey Day and Hannukah and even more generously submitted to the haggis on the 25th of January.
  • There are three-day weekends ten minutes after the Christmas tree comes down! Instead of slogging through to Easter to get the first public holiday, here you only have to work for a fortnight after New Year and it's MLK Day. Then it's Presidents' Day quick as a flash. Big fan.
  • Low-stakes downtime. Holidays you really care about can bring pressure no matter how laidback you are, and definitely bring expecations. But for me, Independence Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Indigenous People's Day, Cesar Chavez Day . . . I have no idea what any of them are supposed to make me feel so I just crack on. One of them has to do wirth cherries, right? Beyond that, search me. 
Guess which holiday this was? (Correct. Could be any.)

So, in conclusion- Wait, what was the question? Hmmm. Well, you see, it's not the season that affects my writing, it's the deadlines and right now it's the self-imposed Nanowrimo deadline. I'm banging out a first draft and the pantsing seems to have spread to the blog.

But here are links to the Samhain, the Beltane and Burns' Night - far more interesting than my writing schedule anyway. 


California mid-winter or Caledonia mid-summer?
Both pretty lovely. 


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