Sunday, September 5, 2010

New Beginnings

*Note: This is a repost - I've been told comments were getting an error message, so I apologize if you're seeing this twice on your readers. Happy Labor Day weekend, all!

Note: Books are carefully folded forests

void of autumn
bound from the sun
- Saul Williams

The above is a stanza is from a book of poems I just picked up, and those three lines sealed the deal for me. I kept repeating them in my mind like they were mental beads on a rosary, and knew I had to have it.* This is how I choose my poetry. It’s chaotic and intuitive and random. I never read what I’m “supposed” to read. That would be like reading names on gravestones, and would take all the fun out of it for me.

No, I wait for something to speak to me, for some gong of recognition in my chest, for the words of another person to form new connections in my mind. Poetry is a creative electric shock, so it’s a great place to run to when refilling the well from which ideas spring, a splash of cold water on the face at the beginning of your writing day. I’m at that point now, doing light edits on the sixth book in my Zodiac series, THE NEON GRAVEYARD, and looking forward to what comes next. Hopefully by the time I start sweating out two thousand words a day, day after day, that well will have a surplus of ideas and newly formed connections for me to draw upon.

Obviously I’m not only reading poetry. I’ve just blown through the HUNGER GAMES trilogy (another body of work that I’m shocked and delighted exists; I could have never dreamed those books into existence!) and I have a handful of books partly read (I’D KNOW YOU ANYWHERE, by Laura Lippman; THE REAPERS ARE THE ANGELS, by Alden Bell; PRINCE OF THIEVES, by Chuck Hogan, SILVER BORNE by Patricia Briggs; SAVAGES by Don Winslow) which I pick at every day depending on my mood. Like I said, no reason or rhyme to my reading. Only what I want when I want it. I don’t ever want reading to become work. (I suppose that’s why I don’t read overly much within the Urban Fantasy genre.)

The oddity in all of this isn’t that I’m reading eclectically, but it’s the time of year at which I’m actively doing so. No matter when my deadline hits, where I am in the publishing cycle, or what else is going on in my life, I - me, as a person - begin again in September. It’s when I clean house (forget spring cleaning; it’s September cleaning for me) and clear off my desk, clean up my writing notes, start a new journal, and begin again. Anything that isn’t good for me - including personal habits; including ‘friends’ - that I don’t want as an active part of the next year of my life, is swept out the door. This allows space for new habits, hobbies, and people. All of which create new thoughts. All of which create new experiences. All of which create new books. September, in other words, is my personal new year.

Lest this sound too calculated, I should say that I didn’t consciously realize this until it was pointed out to me about five years ago. Sure enough, right before each September I felt myself craving new experiences, knowing they would be the cornerposts for my life in the following year. I think everyone does this sort of skin-shedding, though maybe not everyone has thought of it as such. Realizing it, though - anticipating it, and recognizing it when it comes - has helped me alleviate a lot of frustration (“Vicki, why are you cleaning out the garage when your deadline is in two days??!”) and I can now see it as a great boon to my creative life. And we’re all creators of our lives.

So my question to all of you is what do you do to consciously remake your thoughts and life? Is there a time of year that you mentally seem to come alive? Is there a point in the twelve month cycle that feels like rebirth? Even though the world celebrates January first as a new beginning, do you have another, more personal date that makes you want to take stock, declutter, and then roar from the starting gate into the rest of your year?

Mine is September. I’d love to hear yours.

*The book of poetry, if you’re interested, is called ,said the Shotgun to the head. It’s ostensibly one poem laid out over alternating black and white pages and is apparently the result of a kiss. How could I resist that?


Vicki Pettersson said...


Pamela Palmer said...

Hey Vicki. Love the post! Your talk of September and new beginnings makes me think of starting school as a kid with a brand new binder and new folders and new outfits. On the first day of school the pool has closed, the weather's starting to get cool (or will soon), and everything seems to change at once. Still, for me, there's something about the new year and changing the calendar that makes me think of new beginnings. Unfortunately, nothing short of the impending arrival of houseguests inspires me to do any deep cleaning. Wish it did!

Jeaniene Frost said...

Love the poem snippet. And as always, I'm hoping I survive the September sweeps *wink*.

nymfaux said...

great post!!!! I agree with Pamela, even though I haven't been out of school THAT long, I've always felt the pull of the school supplies isle, with all the bright colors and shiny new stuff.

It's a little weird for me, now, because I've been transplanted to California, where they don't have seasons--Time seems to go so much faster, because I don't notice it, and I feel like I lose track of things. I moved again recently, and moving seems to re-energize my creative side.

Katie Dalton said...

Vicki, maybe this not what you meant when asking for responses to your question but thats me, random, and off beat. ;)
March is the month every year when big things happen in my life. Break up, car needs major work, laid off from job, etc.
Every year I loath march coming up, its not good things that happen to me either. Always March brings bad news... :(
So not really what you asked but something that came to mind. :)
Enjoy September, and build time machine for March please. lol

Sharon S. said...

I dread the summer every year. I hate it. It is too hot, I don't like the pool or the beach (grew up with beach).
I *love the fall, when the leaves change. Those cool mornings and nights, the smell of wood burning fireplaces, all those fun holidays! Since I will finally go outside; I do yard work, open windows and doors and dust, set out comforters, pillows, rugs....ah, it is soooo close and the Blue Ridge Parkway is only 1 1/2 hours away....

Crystal @ RBtWBC said...

I don't have a specific month but I've noticed usually in the fall I like to make changes. Redecorate, try something new, make a new goal for myself, ect. Maybe it's the change in seasons that sparks it, I don't know. But I just love this time of year, especially as it gets closer to Halloween, which is a fave holiday, and it starts to cool off a bit here.
I'm really looking forward to The Neon Graveyard.
Hope everyone had a great Labor Day Weekend!

Vicki Pettersson said...

Oy - I'm having problems replying to this post. Apologies! I actually did check in yesterday ...

Pam - *slapping forehead* Srsly. It could be Pavlovian and related to the school year. I've never thought of it that way before.

Oh, J. You will ever be there in my Octobers. If I'm lucky, that is. *smile*

nym - Don't get me started. I love office supplies. Such a weirdo that way. And So. Nevada doesn't have seasons, either, so it may be abject relief at losing (finally) the summer heat.

Sharon and Crystal - there's something ... forgiving about the fall, isn't there. Life lies easier on you. Halloween is also my v. favorite holiday. :-)


Nicole Murphy said...

Fabulous post Vicky and a really interesting question. I know what you mean about that moment of needed to start over, but I'm not sure if it occurs at the same time each year. I'll have to pay a bit of attention to myself and see what happens :)