Less Light, More Magic: Moving into Fall

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This wasn’t a great summer for anyone. Even the mosquitos are flying around hungry because BBQ season has been scaled in, scaled back, and scaled over with restrictions. Writers, who deal with more internal drama than most on a regular basis, have found themselves listlessly drifting through the muggy heat of an indoor summer.

It’s me. I am ‘writers.’

But none of us are leaving this summer completely empty-handed, and just because our days are getting shorter doesn’t mean we’re doomed to fading enthusiasm. Here is what I’m taking with me and what I’m forecasting for the next season.

It’s a Year for Groundwork

If you aren’t meeting your word goals, don’t panic. It’s a secondary pandemic sweeping writing circles this year. But don’t worry. You’re doing more right now than you realize. We’re all doing a lot of thinking in our isolation. We’re relearning how to live, one of the greatest thought experiments to ever be put to tangible practice. Shopping, playing, and even working looks very different than it did just six months ago. Those shifts affect your thought patterns, and the shock and frustration you’re dealing with now is fertilizer for tomorrow’s novel.

This is also a great chance to dig into the escapism of writing, and not in an entirely productive way. Indulge in map-making, family tree planning, and pointless backstories for characters with three seconds of screen time. Do the ‘fun’ parts of worldbuilding, and turn what used to game night into an adventure on paper.

It’s Time to Remember Fun

I had a shocking moment when I looked at WIP I’d been struggling with and suddenly understood: I wasn’t having fun. Summer is the season of fun, but somehow, I’d taken a plot and characters that thrilled me and let the grey mundane of pandemic life drain them.

Who let that happen?

The advantage of a very sad and empty planner this fall is that I have space to play. It’s time to lean into the fun and stop feeling like I must have a best-seller written before the COVID vaccine arrives.

It’s Going to Be a Lonely Season

Late summer and early fall usually bring a wave of friends and creative acquaintances to the area as the Renaissance and medieval festivals open around the Midwest. For obvious reasons, those events just aren’t happening this year. The few determined to press on are dramatically smaller with only two or three open days. I miss my friends. I miss our seasonal adventures. Even a hermit like me can get lonely.

That isn’t going to get better in the next couple months, and that will feel awful, but that is almost a good thing. You know all the clichés about realizing how great people and places are when you can’t see them? We are all living that cliché now. And next year, we’re going to party twice as hard when we get back together.

It’s Time to Look for Magic Again

Halloween has long been my favorite holiday. It’s all costumes, candy, and an edge of fear that tingles into delight. This year there won’t be trick-or-treating in my part of the world. Because I’m high risk, the few haunted houses open their doors offer a higher chance of death than I’m personally comfortable with in a simulated graveyard.

However, it’s still a great season for magic. I encourage everyone to lean into the catharsis of this scary holiday. We’re all a little terrified for one reason or another, and we can laugh about it. We can dress up to hide from the dead and indulge in harvest treats. I’m sure plenty of plot bunnies are hiding in the dark corners, too. They should be scared. It’s time for a hunt under the full moon – even if that means I’m cackling over my keyboard, surrounded by candles and cheap chocolate this October 31st.

While the end isn’t exactly in sight, we’ve all been stumbling along for enough months to find something like a regular pace. We’re still learning as we go, but at least we’re going somewhere. What insights did you glean this summer, and how will they help you this fall?

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