Spring or autumn, September is a time of change – of endings, of renewals. And that change of seasons offers some powerful and inspiring ideas for for writers. Often it can be as simple as the change of environment.
At summer’s end the leaves turn brown, a reminder of the mortality of life. They fall and become a carpet, then turn to slush and humus as the winter wraps its bleakness around them. And then, like a switch, the warmth returns; blossoms peek into golden sun, and there is the promise of summer. Until it rains, anyway.
The joy of the new season, or the turning of the old, colours writing moods in subtle ways – and becomes inspiration, a trigger for ideas, a setting for a story; a sign of the mood or needs of characters; a sign of year’s end. Look at the picture I took of the Mangone river bridge, inland Hawke’s Bay, in autumn 2008. What does it evoke, other than the ‘bridges of Madison County’? Memories of a long summer now faded, still echoed in clear skies and cool sun? There is a story here, perhaps.
The trick, as always, is abstraction. J R R Tolkien – inevitably – was a master at the technique. Open The Lord Of The Rings or The Hobbit at virtually any page, and you are likely to find long and evocative descriptions of the weather, of the season – all the things that Tolkien saw unfolding around him in the English countryside as the seasons changed, written with the eye of genuine observation, creating a mood to give depth to the story.
They set out from Rivendell on their journey south in the dead of winter, a bleak setting for a bleak moment in their lives which we feel through the sense of grey chill Tolkien evokes as they leave. Spring in Ithilien gives Frodo and Sam the lift they need at this pivotal moment in the quest, and we share that feeling through Tolkien’s wonderful descriptions of this pleasant land as nature awakens after a desperate winter – a mood given heightened contrast by our knowledge of the desperation of our heroes and the looming undertones of darkness and war.
Do you find inspiration around you, as seasons change? Not necessarily for writing – but also for yourselves? Is it a time to think? A time to reflect? Rewewal? Talk to me!
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2012