September Song – Creativity through the Seasons

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Aaron Burden

But the days grow short
When you reach September
When the autumn weather
Turns leaves to flame… 
     “September Song”

 

Does the change of season affect your creativity?  Are you more creative in the winter than fall?

Maybe you live in a part of the world where seasonal changes have more to do with the calendar than the weather. Does it make any difference in your creative output?

Artists are often sensitive to the rhythms and cycles of nature. Poets have long personified the seasons.

No spring nor summer’s beauty hath such grace
As I have seen in one Autumnal face….
~John Donne, “Elegy IX: The Autumnal”

Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons.  ~Jim Bishop

As a writer, I find I’m most creative in the summer time, yet more productive in winter when I’m forced to spend more time indoors. Give me a sunny window and I’m good to go. There are studies to support that seasonal changes influence our creative minds and hearts. One suggests that the warmth of summer may make people more relationally creative. The winter, on the other hand, may inspire more abstract thinking. 

“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”   Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18

I cling to the last days of summer, which isn’t hard to do this time of year in New England. September teases with its brilliant sky, green grass, and 80 degree afternoons. But the subtle signs of change taunt: a smattering of red leaves on the maple tree. The earlier, muted sunsets. The cool nights.

I notice how much of seasonal change involves light—its intensity, color, slant, and warmth. My visual artist friends talk about how natural light variation affects their work. Photographers only get a brief chance to capture a certain light.  Writers can retrace this vanished light with words. I was thinking about this while writing a scene set in early summer on Cape Cod. How do you describe its unique light that changes hour by hour? Set the story in October and you’ll need a different paintbrush to capture the light.

rooms-by-the-sea

Rooms by the Sea (Cape Cod) Edward Hopper 1951

Consider a summer sunset over the ocean. The way you choose to describe this should be filtered through the eyes of the character (or narrator in nonfiction.)  Is the onlooker someone who just lost her father? Now imagine describing the same scene through the eyes of a woman newly married to the love of her life.

Context matters when painting a setting with words. Including seasonal sensory details and images, filtered through point-of-view, can add depth and suggest your story’s mood.

“Autumn burned brightly, a running flame through the mountains, a torch flung to the trees.”   ~Faith Baldwin, American Family

Of all the months, September seems to me to bring the greatest transition. Beginnings and endings. Starts and finishes. Vacation ends. Back-to-school. The Jewish New Year.  To some, it’s a welcome change. To others, a prelude to days lacking in color and warmth. My friend Ruth wilts in the heat of the summer and looks forward the crisp fall days. I, in contrast, bloom in the heat and wilt in the winter.

Oh, the days dwindle down
To a precious few
September, November

Like the seasons, our creativity ebbs and flows. We can recognize this, accept it, and surrender to creativity’s cyclical nature. As I approach the proverbial “end of the tunnel” with my current manuscript in-progress, I hope to bask in the light of accomplishment.

My summer light. 

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Albany, NY

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Walden Pond .  Concord, MA

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Newport Beach

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Rhode Island Cliff Walk

Postscript: Thank you to all who wrote me moon landing memories and more songs for my Trip-to-the- Moon Playlist.  Recently I was reminded of Antonin Dvorak’s beautifully haunting, Song to the Moon. and wanted to share it with you. (Enjoy September’s Harvest full moon 9/13-14!)

Moon, stand still a while

and tell me where is my dear.

Tell him, silvery moon,

that I am embracing him.

For at least momentarily

let him recall of dreaming of me.

Illuminate him far away,

and tell him, tell him who is waiting for him!

harvest-moon-

~

 

25 responses

  1. Winter used to be my fallow period, my writing would go dormant from Thanksgiving to New Year’s. Now, probably thanks to experience, I can write all year round. Seasons are a little harder to define out here on the central California coast, usually depending on whether it’s drought year or not.

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  2. Due to my chronic fatigue and being sensitive to heat and sunlight, I find myself more energetic in the fall. I am also biased because I was born on Sept. 15, so I think I naturally love the fall. I miss college transitions, but every year I try to improve around this time. I reflect on my accomplishments and mistakes.

    Happy Jewish New Year!

    It sounds like you transition well! I love the photos and picks!

    Congratulations on finishing your manuscript. What an accomplishment, indeed!

    As for creativity, I am probably more creative in the summer, when I am most depressed. In autumn and spring, I think better and perhaps more abstractly. I am naturally analytical, which is what I admire in myself, even when it becomes a deterrent for harmony with certain personalities.

    I love writing in the fall, though I am not a writer (yet). The desiduous trees give me inspiration, and the cooling temperatures provide the right atmosphere for me to play. Creativity is always there, but I find myself most creative when depressed – in summertime.

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    • First, I must curb you enthusiasm…I haven’t quite finished my manuscript. I meant that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I am over the muddy middle and have a good sense of the story’s direction. Your fall reckoning is in line with the goals Jewish New Year–reviewing the past, setting goals, and looking forward to fresh beginning. You are a writer! Keep at it, GB. Oh, and happy birthday!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you, Evelyn, for the birthday wishes. I wish I grew up Jewish. It really sounds like a lot of fun with all the holidays and traditions! My half-brother is Jewish by marriage (his wife is Jewish), and he absolutely loves the tradition, his wife’s family, and raising his children in the Jewish faith. He goes to the Temple every Friday, I believe. I have not spoken with him for a while, but I think he is busy with work and preparing for many different events.

        I am confident that you will get published! Your writing is amazing! And I am sure you will have many aha moments when you find that creative thing to write about or a new twist on words. I try to do academic writing – the operative word being “try.” I am way way way too verbose and bore even myself at times when I am re-reading my own stuff. My typing hands may just have a mind of their own, existentially speaking. LOL. I will improve, but it is a slow process for stubborn old me.

        I hope this season brings you much joy and peace!

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          • Thank you, Evelyn. Lately, I’ve been writing drafts of personal statements for grad school. I’ve been going through many transitions since we last communicated. I took your advice to meet new people (mostly neighbors), see new places around here, etc. I’ve furnished half of my apartment, and I’ve been working on a new daily or weekly routine now. I’m still in the process of acclimating to my new life, but I’m finally getting a sense of settling down – at least for the moment.

            I hope you are doing well! I will send you an email in the next week with some news. 🙂

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  3. I find something nice and inspiring in any season but each season requires a different approach to see it. And I’ve found autumn, especially the gloomy days, perfect for thinking and thus developing backstories.

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  4. Hi Evelyn, couldn’t resist the temptation! 😉 I have been mostly off the last couple of months and I’ve just read your comment in my post, so had to visit you and read your wonderful post!😊
    You know by now my feelings about September, and it was lovely to read yours too!
    Now we can always have a new fact to associated to September: to create links between people!
    Love your writing, so will be looking forward to read more from you!
    🙏😉

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    • Thank you so much. Meeting new kindred spirits is a reward for bloggers. Funny you should mention September in this way. I met one of my special friends just this way–through words traveling long distance. I hope you enjoy my upcoming creativity series.

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  5. Fall is my favorite season ❤ and I love poems and pictures about changing leaves ❤ Thought I am most creative in the winter because I am stuck inside because of the cold and don't have sports all the time, so I have more time to be creative 🙂

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  6. Pingback: Blogger Bouquet #57 – Jennifer Kelland Perry, Author

    • Thank you, Jennifer! I love flowers, even the virtual kind. I much appreciate you sharing my creative work with your readers. I’m interested in learning more about your remote living and writing. I do not write speculative fiction but have recently been reading and enjoy such short stories.

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  7. Hello – I enjoyed this post very much. I hadn’t thought much about the seasons and creativity but you’ve openend my mind to this. Thanks! Thank you to Jennifer Kelland Perry, too, for introducing me to you, Evelyn. Congratulations on your blogger’s bouquet 🙂

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