It’s harvest time here in the Midwest. Farmers are busy cutting beans and corn. The days are getting shorter. Leaves are starting to have some color. The nights are loud with the sounds of insects busy getting ready for the winter. This is a time for gathering.I know we’re tempted to think of autumn as a death of sorts and winter the long grieving period before the rebirth of spring, but these days, nearing my 60th birthday, I’m concentrating on collecting and celebrating and looking forward to the lovely days ahead. I’m thinking of autumn, not as an end, but a new beginning. I’m thinking of winter as a time of renewal.
It’s easy to give winter a bad rap—all those days of short light, all that cold, all that ice and snow—but I’ve always found that the winter season gives our lives a certain degree of urgency. We hunch our shoulders and bend our necks against the wind. We make our movements crisp and efficient. We don’t lollygag. Free from the distraction of warm days and long light, we live our lives with purpose. After many winters of discontent, I proclaim this coming winter the winter of living life to its fullest.
Similarly, I want to embrace my writing with vigor and hope. I invite you to do the same. Do you have a piece of fiction or nonfiction that you’re not quite happy with? Here’s something you can try. Tell yourself the piece has to open in a different place. Find that place in your draft and use it as your first step onto the page. This doesn’t mean you have to completely lose the current opening. It may be something you can use further on in the piece. Often our openings are flat because we’re stumbling as we try to get our feet. Once we hit our stride, we write with more confidence and style. So find something from your draft that could be a new beginning and see what happens.
You may find the piece opening with more forward momentum. You may also find it opening with a stronger, more distinct voice. Perhaps, this new beginning also sets the stakes for the main character in a piece of fiction, or for you as the narrator of a piece of nonfiction. Maybe you’ll find yourself writing with more urgency. This often happens when we cut off a flabby opening, and begin anew. We find ourselves moving forward into the future with more confidence.
Autumn gives way to winter, youth gives way to age, drafts and people evolve. Don’t give up on yourself or a piece of writing. Look for a new beginning. Let it remind you of all that matters. Go forward with self-belief and hope.