Sunday, 24 August 2014

Summertime, and the writing is ...

Some years ago I did a significant research project into therapeutic work with traumatised children - so not a topic to be taken lightly. Before setting the whole thing up I needed to do a thorough literature review and familiarise myself with research methods.

It was work to take seriously. I had a proper study, all the trappings of an academic. I had to give lectures.

And then my supervisor asked me how much work I was likely to get done over the summer.

'That depends on the weather,' I said.

I knew from the look on his face it was the wrong answer. He'd expected me to utilise all those days with less official work to knuckle down and get the reading done. After all, it wasn't as if I wasn't interested in it. Well, I can't admit to being interested in research methods. I've learned a lot, but goodness, how tedious most of those books are! But the rest of it was fascinating.

But it was work. It belonged in the study. And when the sun shone - how could I sit in there being studious when the birds were singing, the bees buzzing, and the garden was heady with the scent of roses? It felt a bit rebellious, but one hint of sunshine and off I went, outside, with a novel or short story and sometimes a glass of cold white wine.

Now, here I am again, writing beckoning me from the computer and the lure of the garden. This time I've only myself to please. So - outside I go. The summer is too short, and my love of sunshine too strong, to spend warm days closeted.

It's got me thinking. I've read (and I'm sure you have) countless blogs and snippets of writing advice, suggesting you find your most productive time of day to write. Climb from your bed at sparrowfart if early morning is your time, or keep the candles burning if you are a night owl. I nod and know I'll carry on, fitting it in as best I can.

But seasonal writing - that has had little attention. It's taken a long time, but now I can hold up my head and say I'm a seasonal writer. Spring and autumn are my most productive times. Why not the winter - when the days are cold and the nights long? Because that's when I go walkabout, to hot and sunny places, and spend a month or so pretending it is still summer.

I was chatting to an artist friend of mine about this, and was interested that she, too, is less productive in the summer.

'When the days are long I want to be outside, in the garden,' she said, 'and thinking about outside things. But when it's cold and dark, then I am more interesting in my internal world and am able to access unconscious processes which I need to inform my painting.'

I'd not thought of it like that - though it makes complete sense to me now. Does it resonate for you? Or are you linked to more daily rhythms?

(There's the remnants of a hurricane raging as I write this. With a few more wet days, I'll manage to edit it!)

(Want to know what happened last winter? I went to Cuba - and the story is here. Or drop by the website, http://www.jocarroll.co.uk to see what else I've been up to.)

2 comments:

julia jones said...

I like this post. Need time to relax and let the unbidden thoughts come in. There's also the need to store up with ideas and vitality and non-work-related reading for the cold dark months ahead. A little matter of time for family and friendships too. I LOVE summer.

Lydia Bennet said...

I'm with you, Jo (sadly not somewhere hot and sunny). Unless we have specific deadlines and commissions, I see no reason to apologise for when we write or if we write - it's easy to feel pressured by all the posts on social media of how many thousand words other writers did today, but we all have our own methods that work for us. I don't get many chances to sit outside in the north east, but sometimes I'd quite like to work outside but when it's hot enough to do that, it's too hot and glarey for a laptop! not to mention getting sun cream all over the keys.