Thank you, Jimmy Buffett, for that title.
It’s June 1 in this part of the world, and here in Florida that means just one thing: It’s the first day of Hurricane Season.
We mark our lives by seasons. Spring, Summer, Autumn (which some of us call Fall), and Winter. Wet and dry. High and Low. Tourist and Quiet. Hurricane Season, and the other half of the year.
It’s a way of marking time, which seems (at least to me) to go by way too fast. A way of punctuating, not our sentences, but our life rhythms. Even, for some, where we are and what we’re doing. Whether we are hot or cold, active or vegging, complacent or alert.
June 1 a year ago I was somewhere between northern British Columbia and the Yukon, on the way toward Whitehorse, and then on to Alaska in the coming days. So different from this year, here sedentary aboard my boat on the Gulf Coast of Florida. The heat of today stands in contrast to the cold of a year ago, when there was snow — even a lot of it — on the ground in places I was passing through. I’d pretty much forgotten about Hurricane Season, at least for awhile. Also from Jimmy Buffett, Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes.
What does any of this have to do with writing? Actually, a lot. For me at least, I sometimes need to break free of patterns to find my voice. I find routine — other, perhaps, outside the routine of writing — to be the enemy of originality. Whether it’s a change of season, or of weather, or of place, or just of frame of mind, creative expression seems to come out of the change. Something I learned long ago, that I write best in borrowed rooms, was an early recognition of this reality.
While people who know me may think I’ve lost my mind, every now and then I have to break the ready rhythms of my life. To go do something that seems crazy. To depart on some adventure or other, something admittedly I do a lot less than I used to do. Even in my sleep, which sometimes has to substitute for waking life, to explore new worlds, lives, characters, actions, ideas.
How many other writers are like me in this regard? Not a clue. But I suspect more than a few. When they feel themselves stuck, or just running dry, it’s time for a change of . . . place, pursuit, diet, season, whatever. And even if you can’t reason with Hurricane Season, sometimes you just have to go with the flow, and out of the flow comes your voice, renewed and more clear.
Anyone else find this to be true? Or not?