I find December a very strange time of the year - all bleak and bright mixed up in emotions and notions. Here in the UK it is the grim time of Winter, somewhere non-descript between the flare of Autumn and the bright white of cold, where the default is grey and uninspiring. The fields are waterlogged and the garden is uninviting. Morning walks are reduced to a sloshy wellied endurance test and the dog is in a permanent state of muddy.
But then there is December 21st. And - no matter how grim and sludgy the world looks - December 21st carries a nugget of hope. It is this day that marks the middle of Winter. It looks no different to the other grey days around it, but I know that it marks an ending to the dark. From December 22nd, second by second, Spring will be coming again.
No wonder our ancestors chose this day (ish) for a full-on festival!
And December seems to reflect in my attitude to writing too. From a `getting stuff done' point of view, it is very slow. People (and me) are distracted by the demands of Christmas and a creeping holiday spirit makes serious endeavours seem, well, boring. In short, I do very little.
But after Christmas, when the Christmas Tree disappears back into its box, then is a time of new ambition. I love New Year. Not for the parties (I haven't made it to midnight for a while now), but for the hope that a brand new year brings with it. A new Spring. A new start. New possibilities.
I follow a blog by writer Jeff Goins (The Jeff Goins Blog (goinswriter.com) ). He recently wrote that to be a person is `to be involved in the process of constant change'. To be a writer, even more so.
When I left full-time work two years ago, I thought that all my writerly aspirations would spring forward and, with them, success. But change can be slow, like the turning of a year and the budding of a garden. Success can be measured in smaller steps: in submitting that manuscript, in writing that first draft (no matter how grim it looks in first draft!) and in having the courage to let other people read your words and think whatever they think. All of those leaps of faith and small changes build on the person (and the writer) we might still become.
Roll on 2021. I am ready for you!
Seasons greetings, everyone. I wish you wonder and joy and the knowledge that you will change and grow. May it be wonderful!
And relentless rain
Has run furrows full.
The garden and the fields
Have yielded to mud:
Sticky sludge binds the boots
Of the walker.
The grey sky seeps
Into greyed fields
With trees black-drawn. Bleak.
Spring seems more than a season away.
In the rain of deep December.
Then the shush of the rain
To the sudden sweet trill
Of a robin.
Quite suddenly, somewhere close
A small, red-hearted song
Breathes colour –
The thrumming chords
Of the rain
In deep December
(From : Fieldsong; Mandy Whyman (2020))