Outside the leaves on the trees constricted slightly; they were the deep done green of the beginning of autumn. It was a Sunday in September. There would only be four. The clouds were high and the swallows would be here for another month or so before they left for the south before they returned again next summer.
Ali Smith, The Whole Story and Other Stories

Perhaps because I’ve spent most of my life in the academic world, September has always been a significant month for me. It seems to have more of a sense of new beginnings than the overrated ‘newness’ of January. The dog-days of summer are largely over, and it’s time to think about starting something new, whether that is a new school, class, hobby, project. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why I’ve always loved C Day Lewis’s poem ‘Walking Away’ with the wonderfully evocative lines:

A sunny day with leaves just turning,
The touch-lines new-ruled …

which captures perfectly that feeling of change and newness – exciting but edgy.

September has always felt like a time of creative energy, with new ideas bubbling to the surface, which is why I was interested to read Rose Tremain’s words in Saturday’s Guardian: Most writers experience what I call the ‘September paradox: just when the weather is warning of the dying season to come, the creative mind (probably refreshed by a hot foreign holiday, or a breezy one on the north Norfolk shore) discovers that an internal springtime has arrived and new ideas are popping up all over the place.

Such thoughts seem particularly significant for me in September 2016 as I’ve recently been diagnosed with myeloma and must soon undertake an intensive treatment regime – not the sort of new beginning I’m looking for! I’ve thought a lot about whether I should post this ‘news’, as I don’t normally share really personal stuff, and it’s a blog about writing, not illness. But I don’t know how often I’ll feel like writing once I start the treatment – which won’t be for several weeks yet – and I don’t want everyone to forget me! Besides, I’m a writer, and what do writers do about things that happen? They WRITE about them.

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  1. Linda says:

    I agree with you about new beginnings not being in January, afterall, nothing much changes except the date, and packing away Christmas for another year! April to me seems a good new start as I like spring and the change from dark winter clothes to the light summery ones – as well as the lighter evenings! However, September is also a good time for new starts, being in education, with our new fresh faced year 7’s, all uniforms crisp and neat, hesitant questions, which will all last until about half term if we are lucky.

    I am so very sorry to hear your news, it must be an awful time for you, and your family, definitely not a very good beginning this September, but the worst! Please do let us all know how you are when you feel up to it, as I know there are so many of us thinking of you and wishing you well. We also respect your wishes if you prefer to keep it private, we will still be here.

  2. Debbie Young says:

    Hi Lindsay

    I think anyone who has worked in academia for long (13 years for me) and/or who has children is programmed forever to think of September as the REAL new year, in the northern hemisphere anyway – I’m certainly with you on that one! Although I only twigged the other day when hearing something on the radio that the real reason for our school year starting in September is that it marked the end of the harvest so children were no longer needed in the fields!

    Really sorry to hear about your diagnosis, and I hope your treatment goes as smoothly as anything of that kind might. We are so lucky to have our wonderful NHS and I am sure you will be very well cared for, but that doesn’t make it any less upsetting or disruptive. Please know that however long you might leave between blog posts as a result, we’ll still be ready and waiting to read your next one! And you never know, you might even find yourself blogging more frequently in response to the experience. Or maybe your next book will have a hospital/medical theme? Once a writer…


  3. Polly says:

    You’re so right about September, it’ll always be the starting point for me…

    Debbie’s possibly right that you may blog more frequently in response to your coming experiences – nothing’s ever wasted. Chins up and soldier on… xx

  4. Rebecca GEthin says:

    That is very distressing news for you and for your family. I am v sorry to hear this but you are a strong person and will weather this setback. Good luck with the treatment whatever it is and may you feel protected. And yes, sept is always a time of change, much more so than Jan which is a time of hibernation for me.

  5. Jane says:

    September for me is a mix of nostalgia for the summer that’s gone but excitement for the winter ahead, I’m not sure why, probably something to do with the thought of the Christmas ‘home run’ from childhood, not so much now! ? but I like the way September smells, it is distinctly different to August, or maybe that’s just me?
    Keep on blogging Linds and remember, were all here for you (Vale Connection) anytime xxx

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