By Scott Bury
It’s fall. My favourite season.
To some, fall is the season of decay, or winding down to winter. “It’s the time when everything dies,” someone once told me.
To me, it’s very different. The temperature falls, the nights lengthen. School years begin again, the harvest gets into high gear. Fall, to me, is the time to begin projects. It’s energizing.
Fall for the fantasy writer
As I’ve said before, I derive a great deal of inspiration for my writing from the natural world. I like to get out into the forest (not too far away from my house—one of the benefits of living in Ottawa), close my eyes and feel the forces of the earth.
And there’s a particular spirit to autumn. I’m not the first one to think so, not by a long stretch. The ancient Greek myth of Persephone is a personification of autumn and winter; Tolkein’s depiction of the final days of the elves in Middle-Earth is a metaphor for autumn, for a fading time.
Image courtesy DailyDot.com
George Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire is set in an extended autumn. “Winter is coming” is the catch-phrase of the northerners, and it’s a saying heavy with meaning: there are forces gathering that you have absolutely no ability to change, turn or affect in any way, so you had better make sure you have enough fuel and food stored to survive. Oh, yah, and fix that drafty window and put really heavy locks on your doors. Maybe sharpen those obsidian knives, too.
But there’s much more than that: the autumn equinox, which we just passed, is the time of year when light and dark are balanced. To the ancient Celts, it was a time of the year akin to dusk, when the veil between this world and the “other” is thinner, and passing through it is easier.
We can also think of it as a time of balance between the forces of light and dark, sky and earth, sun and moon.
What are some of the ideas that come to me in the fall? The transfer of energy, for one—from the solar (celestial) sphere, stored in the earthly (chthonic) in the form of fruit. The dark season is the time when the celestial forces are secondary to the chthonic.
The harvest season is the time to turn our attention away from abstract, ethereal concerns and to the real day-to-day concerns like storing food for the winter—making jam, pickles, preserves, cutting firewood, making sure the tools you need in winter are all working, and making sure that you have enough various supplies to survive a season when nothing grows and there will be days, or periods several days long, when you just won’t be able to leave your home.
I feel balanced on an edge in fall. I’m filled with energy, with a desire to move forward, to write those stories that have been rattling around in my brain. To complete Dark Clouds, chapters of which I’ve previewed on this blog; to write the sequel to The Bones of the Earth, which I’ve outlined.
There are so many things to do, so many stories to write, so much inspiration to be taken from the season. I’m getting to it right now—
Scott Bury is a writer based in Ottawa, Canada. His fantasy works include The Bones of the Earth, Dark Clouds, What Made Me Love You? and Teri and the River.
And follow him on Twitter @ScottTheWriter.