Writing weather has finally arrived! The cupboards are stocked, so I’ll only be going to the grocery store once per week instead of twice. That includes an ample supply of coffee, candles, and vitamin D tablets. There’s a fireplace streaming to the big television in the living room. Relaxing classical or jazz is streaming softly on my laptop. It’s cold, dark, and wet outside, so the desire to stay inside the cozy apartment and write is strong. I love this time of year. I’m at my most creative and productive.
I’ve learned to do more planning and organizing in the summer, and less writing. My wife subscribes to this theory Ray Bradbury had, of “provoking the latent beast”. He would ignore an idea, or a project, for as long as possible. If it wasn’t a strong idea, or something he really wasn’t that interested in, it would go away. When the idea was something he was enthusiastic about, however, it would eat away at him. He’d keep thinking about it. Then when he finally got to sit down and write it, he’d worked most of it through and it just came pouring out. I’ve been saving a number of those projects for this time of year.
Summertime means I want to be outside. I want to go places, do things, and be around people. Doing my planning and organizing means I can spend more time in journals and notebooks, and less time in front of a screen. It’s work that can be done in dribs and drabs, sitting down by the lake or in a coffee shop. When the sunny season is as short as it is gorgeous (i.e. extremely), you don’t let it slip past you. Save screen time for when there’s nothing better to look it.
Of Course There’s a Down Side
Something something cold, something something depression. I know, I struggle with it every year. This is my fifth winter in Finland. I’ve learned to embrace two key Finnish principles. The first is the adage that “there is no bad weather, only bad clothing“. You learn how to dress. This extends to knowing when to bake a load of bread or some cookies to warm up the apartment, where to place the space heater, and when to start taking those vitamin D tablets (at the equinox, back in September). It means getting good halogen lights in every room.
The other concept is sisu. It is the Finnish national character, and there is no equivalent word in English. The closest translation would be something like grit, determination, and tenacity. Just suck it up. Keep going and get through it. That’s part of why this is writing weather for me. It gives me something to do. More than keeping me busy, it gives me purpose. I throw myself into something that I want to do, and that keeps me from focusing on how damned dark it is all the time.
Make the Best of What You’ve Got
Just as the summer eventually ends, I know that the winter will end as well. In the same way that I make the most of the sunshine and warm weather, I try to make the best of the cold and darkness. My goal is to get a lot of writing and editing done, and get ahead of the curve. Have some things in reserve, to release later when the seasons have turned and I don’t want to be glued to a screen any more. Or when I’ve been writing for months on end and just need a break. It’s nothing more than tapping into the natural rhythms of the world, riding that wave, rather than trying to impose my will on things. It’s a lot more comfortable. Things get done, and I’m happy.
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