I think of September as the true new year—I feel it as the new year—even though I have not been in school lo, these many years. It might be that I have retained sense memories of this time of year; it might be the smell of the air, the quality of the light, that the sun is lower in the sky. It might be that I am watching, and feeling for, my own children heading off to school. It might be the atmosphere in the house of renewed resolve and energy, and the novelty of everything. It is probably all of these things that imbue early September with great poignancy, suggesting both an end and a beginning, rich with promise.
On the last day of August, Valerie and I met up in PEI. We walked the beach, ate fish & chips, turned our faces to the sun in what seemed—suddenly—like one of the last times we’d feel it. That sun—lower in the sky—felt fantastic.
We talked a little about books we were reading, about literary hype and prizes, about work and our ideas for workshops and how to get done all we wanted to accomplish with NA in the next little while; but we also talked about blueberries and hiking and good burgers we have eaten.
I had one foot in summer and one in this new year, not sure—yet—where to put the weight. I wasn’t ready to leave the summer behind, though was unable to resist talking about the future, which seemed, as only the future can, shiny and bright. Potential is a wonderful thing. Standing on the brink of time or circumstance, everything seems possible. Potential has everything going for it, and can stretch as far as the eye can see, in all directions. The sense of potential, for the work Valerie and I do together, and that we each do in various other spheres, was palpable that day.
After we parted, we each made notes, mulled ideas over, wrote to each other to confirm certain plans for NA. That is when potential started to resemble a list of resolutions. And standing on the brink of work that will make resolutions into something real is bracing in another way.
This is a good time of year for resolutions. It gets easier to be inside, to incline our heads down to our desktops, to turn our minds to work.
Like all kinds of work, creative and otherwise, writing is often aided by time off. Time spent doing something else, or doing nothing at all, allows energy to build up. Ideas and revelations, small and large, can percolate, even when one doesn’t feel there is any thinking going on. A writer once told me that he wrote copious notes, about character and plot and ideas and pieces of scenes, and spent a great deal of time just thinking. And he wouldn’t start writing until he couldn’t stand not to. I imagined him holding back a rush of energy and creativity—as a dam would hold back a rush of water.
We hope you’ve had some time off, that you might too feel as though the floodgates are about to open. We wish you a palpable sense of the new year, of potential, and of the pleasure of getting back to work.