Summer is a season of brief delights. Tiny beings on gossamer wings cloud the air for fleeting moments. Meadows undulate in an abrupt dazzle of colour. Birds swoop in from their long journeys to a frenzy of feasting and breeding. It is a season where things appear like magic, before vanishing as though they were never there. Where do they come from – the flies and the beetles and the butterflies? Where do they go to when their season has ended? They appear and then they fade, leaving behind traces on the air and the memory of wings. Summer’s long, light days can seem tantalisingly slow, and many of us remember treacly summers of our youth that were never-ending. But summer’s delights are ephemeral and the season rarely seems to linger in the way the dark, raw days of winter do.
In the long, slow turn of the seasons, I see the pattern of a writer’s life. A cycle of hope and despair, of tunnelling inwards to find a nugget of wisdom and reluctantly re-emerging to display it to the world. But if the writing life is a long game, then summer is those brief, dazzling moments of success. It is the moment when you write ‘the end‘; the competition prize or commendation; the moment when you see your words in print; the pleasing comment or review. For most of us it isn’t a best-selling novel or Pulitzer Prize, it is a series of brief delights, that dazzle us temporarily, before we head once more into the doubt doldrums or the hard work of putting one word after another. Sometimes these dazzling moments seem far apart, like midwinter yearning for spring.
Summer is a season of expansiveness. A time to use the long hours of light and warmth to replenish us for the winter ahead. In this season, I feel the hope of sending my work out into the world. The stories jostling for a home will find one; the manuscript waiting for an agent won’t be discarded. That hope and what it may bring sustains me as a writer, just as the memory of summer comforts me when the light is low and the cold chatters my bones.
Of course summer’s brief delights don’t appear from nowhere, and nor do those of a writer’s life. They are the result of months, even years, of preparation. The larvae creeping through the mud, waiting for wings. The seed incubating in the earth, waiting for petals. The story percolating in the mind, waiting for its words. Their magic is that of toil and transformation. So it is no wonder there is delight when they finally emerge. No wonder summer has a frivolity lacking in all the other seasons. It is a time to bask in these transient delights. We will bid them farewell soon enough and move towards the bittersweet dark. And as we do, perhaps we will cast a wistful look behind us and remember the dazzle of the light.