A few days into fall and signs of the changing season are everywhere. As we move into November, I’ve been waiting for the shift into richer words and colors that prepare us for winter. Autumn often feels like the perfect backdrop for literature and writing that leads to comfort. It’s my favorite time of year because it translates into bountiful possibilities. I took some time to search for works that represent this feeling adequately. I found Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letter’s on Cezanne where she wrote “At no other time does the earth let itself be inhaled in one smell, the ripe earth; in a smell that is in no way inferior to the smell of the sea, bitter where it borders on taste, and more honey sweet where you feel it touching that first sounds.” These words offer a reminder for writers to take a moment to pause and appreciate the nearing of the end. As we gather during harvest, we relish the slip into a time of abundance.
If you also admire the beauty of this season and wish to incorporate it into your writing here are a few literary works to produce some new ideas. Grace Paley’s Autumn leans on memory, focusing on the transformation of nature during this time. Annie Finch’s Final Autumn on the other hand uses parallels between relationships and the season to further explore connectedness. In a more classic turn we visit To Autumn by John Keats where the romantic voice is used to convey nature’s transition. There are many ways to delve into this fruitful space. How is autumn significant to you? Are there memories that become sharper during this time, or perhaps you feel a priority to rest and find your writing voice in a way that has never been explored. Some of my favorite activities to help align my writing with fall and November is to focus on how it can translate to deeper motifs. How can it be used as a metaphor? For example, fall brings forth ideas of passage, the death and rebirth of nature, and the brace for awakening. Allow these descriptions to represent what you’re experiencing in a symbolic way.
The weather is already a little brisk and with that my perspective has become steadier. Even amid trying times I think of the writers who prove slowing down can provide great introspection. As I was searching for all things fall, I rediscovered one of my favorite writers Joy Harjo’s poem Fall Song. In this poem she moves back and forth describing details of a fall day against feelings of love and grief. Her words “Forever will be a day like this / Strung perfectly on the necklace of days. Slightly overcast / Yellow leaves / Your jacket hanging in the hallway / Next to mine” evoke both the beauty and sting of the season. With all its enchantments there is also a need to let go of what no longer serves, just as time takes a breath from summer we too can transform. I will soon be decorating my home in Halloween décor and placing a large tin pumpkin cutout in my front yard. A list of fall recipes, books, and movies are already made, and I can’t wait to delve into them. The air hits slightly different today with a reckoning that welcomes me to cherish what fall has left to unfold. I hope you too will enjoy all the haunting beauty that’s approaching!