Autumn came and went quickly here in Boston, with many rainy days and a few gorgeous sunny ones. Then, some time in November, it became winter. Meteorologists and philosophers alike agree though they have no explanation. It got cold, that’s one way to define winter, but also that seasonal sadness settled in, to those that are prone to it and to a few, befuddled others.
Autumn brought me my first book contract, which I just realized I didn’t announce on my blog. If you don’t follow me on social media — guess what! Here’s my elevator pitch: I’m writing a book about my own experience with a time of depression that coincided with a faith-shift, drawing from books that helped me through that time, and speaking to those who are going through something similar. This will not be a how-to-get-over-depression book, or a pray-the-depression-away book. I want it to be a book to hold on to as I held on to Henri Nouwen’s and others. I want it to be a friend to sit next to you through the night until the morning comes. If you are going through a time of depression, or if you love someone who is, I am writing this book for you
Autumn brought joy, excitement, overwhelmederment (Shakespeare made up words so I can, too), gratitude, and determination to write well and without the standard existential crises and imposter syndrome that it seems most good writers experience. It’s going to be a short book, and I have nine months to write it and a good idea of what I’m writing, so it should be entirely doable.
I still think that’s true, but winter came early, and brought that seasonal sadness to me along with others. I’m writing a book about depression, but the days that I’m not depressed are much easier days to write in. The early sunsets and long, dark evenings are going to be part of my chapter on what darkness has to teach us — it’s going to be so lovely and profound — but they are infuriating to live through. They suck the energy out of me. They inspire only in prospect or retrospect, not in presence.
It is a sunny early afternoon right now, and I’m drinking coffee, so I have an hour or two — or at least a few moments — of mental energy and inspiration. I play with words. I discover the assonant pairing of prospect and retrospect and consider whether joining them with presence adds to or takes away from their effect. I start a short story for the very last new writer contest at Glimmer Train. I am a new writer because I haven’t had a fiction story published. I am a new writer in non-fiction, too, but only because online articles don’t count. Actually, there is an ebook with a flash fiction story and a poem of mine in it. I’ve been sending stories out since 2004. I’ve been writing in my journals for almost thirty years.
Sunset in Boston is at 4:32 tonight. That’s still brutally early, but it’s twenty-one minutes later than the earliest, back in December. It hasn’t been this late since November 7th, actually, to be precise. Those twenty minutes are already making a difference. It’s still light when we get home from picking up the seven year old I nanny. It’s dark soon after that, but the light is returning. I hope for you the light is returning as well.