This is the time of year I have learned to dread. The skies are grey, contrasted infrequently by teasing splashes of brilliant blue and fading, golden light. The days are already shorter and the night stretches her shadow for hours after I’m awake. And the wind, when it blows, is like a surgeon’s scalpel designed to slice away the part of me that feels joy, warmth and good humor. It’s worse than winter and is the antipode of early spring in every way. Autumn’s kiss is a promise that things will get worse, not better, for a very long time.
Is it “seasonal affective disorder”? Is it vitamin D deficiency? Is it the large-scale circadian rhythm that my body has been used to since my early teens? Sure, let’s say ‘yes’ to all of these. That doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. Advanced knowledge of a beating doesn’t make the bruises more mild – and boy do I feel like I’m in for a beating.
I expected this year would be better than most. After all, I have a lot of work to keep me busy and a fresh enterprise that is in the making. This past spring and summer my heart leaped at the possibilities, the new and daring adventures I was about to embark upon. Yes, I still feel those disposition, but it’s soaked to the skin and going hypothermic in comparison. What can I do? What can any of us weird, artistic and writerly types do? We press on, bury ourselves in our work and do our best.
Sometimes, I pretend to be a ‘normal’ person. I put on a pair of slacks and a button up shirt. I shave, eat a good breakfast (something more than just my usual coffee and a side of coffee) and leave the house in the morning. I’ll go to my studio office, set up my workstation and pretend that I have a ‘normal’, ‘real’ job.
“Let’s see… I got a 9:30 tomorrow with Scott. A reminder at noon to talk to Mike. In the meantime I better get these work orders sorted out, before I get crackin’ on the pile of submissions. While I’m at it, I ought to get a few thousand words cracked out today – I’m already behind on my NaNo quota.”
It’s a ‘fake it til you make it’ sort of logic. It’s desperate and a bit pathetic too. But I’ll be damned if it doesn’t work. Speaking of work, I still have to get up on those submission queries we got in. Need to shoot off three confirmations and update my spreadsheet. Holy crap, we’ve only got four weeks until the anthology deadline.
Life goes on. Under six months of cold grey skies, or ten feet of snow, or with Cat-5 hurricane warnings, the universe keeps on going. If I don’t go on, I’m at risk of going under and that’s not going to happen. Not this Autumn anyway.
Patrick Jennings-Mapp is a co-founder of and an editor for Escape Collective Publishing. When he’s not ignoring the siren-call of single malt whiskey, he’s propped up next to the fire, typing like mad on his laptop.