This may be the dreariest month of the year. Outside, it feels like a combination of the worst that both winter and spring have to offer. It could be straight out of a bleak scene from a Dickens novel, describing in grand detail, a young boy bravely struggling against the elements in the middle of London City, and losing. It is muddy, icy, windy and rainy, all rolled into one. It is the time of year when sitting by the fire to keep warm loses its appeal. We want change. We want relief from the daily workness of our lives. It is enough to make us weep.
Never mind the fact that February is the shortest month of the year — it can easily feel like the longest. New Year’s resolutions from January already lie in tatters, fit only for the dust-bin of what might have been. They have ceased to matter, as simply getting up every morning to do what must be done appears to be all that can be managed. The self discipline to lose those fifteen pounds, that by now look more like twenty pounds, has got up and gone somewhere else. Would that the excess weight could go with it. We may see that sort of energy again, sometime in the fall, when the cold feels crisp and cheerful, rather than simply tiresome.
Resolutions are about improving ourselves, and our intentions to carry trhough with our plans for self improvement. And as with any such things, self improvement is a matter of trying to make the change, and failing, and getting up to try again, perhaps weeks or months later. Any real changes are gradual. We are not made to produce sudden changes within ourselves. The best we can do, once we decide something is worth working for, is to figure out the best way to attain that goal, and then setting about doing the necessary things a little bit, every day. Winning is never guaranteed. But think how sad it would be if we had no goals and never tried to reach them.
How much does the time of year effect the subject matter the we as writers choose to dwell on? Do more cheerful subjects come to mind in late spring and early fall? Certainly, as writers, we draw on those things that take place around us, though we often detach ourselves from the heaviest part of the emotion, stand aloof as it were, in order to view those happenings in greater glory. Doing that helps us to give the story we are telling depth and shape. It is also true that when we are upset, or depressed, it can be an almost joyful experience to plumb the depths of those emotions — on paper — describing them and embellishing them through the characters in our stories. Letting our characters explore those emotions in ways that it would not be possible to do in real life. But this is only a part of the joy of creative writing, whatever the time of year.
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