How Seasons Have Made Me a Better Writer

I grew up with two seasons: rainy and more rainy. Then later on in southern California it was hot and dry and then chilly and dry. The first time I experienced winter was after my parents moved to Idaho. But I was only visiting for Christmas and only had to put up with it for a few weeks. My first full winter was a trying experience. I used to think cabin fever was a weird dance from “Muppet Treasure Island.” But it’s real, folks.

Now, I embrace the seasons (mainly because resistance is futile- if the Borg were talking about winter they’d have it just about right). They have taught me a heck of a lot about life and about writing–and no, I’m not just talking about learning to describe nature.

Spring. No one ever told me that some trees and bushes bloom yellow before turning green. When the air is crisp and fresh there are moments when spring and fall look almost exactly identical. Only spring is fall in rewind. Patterns are good and sometimes it’s okay for your character to face the same circumstances twice because the outcome will be different. 

Spring. As much as I love Francis Ford Coppola, his gorgeous spring montages in “The Secret Garden” gave me the impression that everything blooms at once. Well, if not all at once, at least within two weeks of each other, right? Wrong. I did not realize that spring comes in waves. The daffodils bloom while most things are still dead. And they in turn, have faded and died by the time the irises peek their purple heads out. It is rare to have all good things come at once. In real life, even the purest joy is tempered by struggle and sadness close by. But that only strengthens the beauty of that joy. 

Summer. No matter how many seasons we’ve been through, humans often have a tendency to think the one they are in at present will last forever. And summer heat has a way of melting winter from your mind. But the human heart doesn’t always heal as fast as the earth. And just because everything looks green and warm, doesn’t mean there is real life beneath. While winter may be cold and harsh, it doesn’t pretend to be anything it’s not. It is brutally honest. There is something about summer that can too easily spread a thick, warm glaze of fake over any imperfections.

Fall. Just as spring is a painfully slow awakening, fall is a drawn out death. Sometimes the best seasons in life are not the easy, breezy summers, but the melancholy days of struggle marked off by the sound of dripping leaves. There is something beautiful about watching a town prepare for winter. You see it in advertisements, closed up doors, jackets and raincoats, but you also hear it in the change of conversation. And you see it in peoples’ faces: “Here come the snows again. We will survive.” There is beauty in patient resignation to difficult circumstances. 

Winter. I have so much to say about winter. Some of it I have already said, and some of it I will say again. Humans have a remarkable ability to endure, and the life under pressure is one of the most worth examining. I suppose there are people out there who only endure a handful of “winters” in the span of their lifetime. But the rest of us go through periods of “winter” on a regular basis. Some of us live at the North Pole. And although it is not fun to live winter, stories about winter are some of the best stories to read because they speak to your very soul.

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