The End Of Summer?

How do we know when we are approaching the end of summer? Years ago, it used to be when the football season started – but that seems to have been pulled forward by several weeks, so is no longer a reliable measure. Or maybe it was when the shops started selling the ‘Back to School’ ranges of clothes and stationery. But since, in some places, these displays were up before last term even finished, that’s no help either.

Last week, I saw my first advert for Strictly Come Dancing. Now that’s a fair indicator that the run up to Christmas has started. And talking of Christmas, have the cards started appearing in the shops yet? I’ve certainly received my first mail-order catalogue specifically aimed at the Festive Season.

But for me, the strongest indicator was that last week when I was getting ready to head off to the gym at 6.15am, I had to put the light on to get dressed. And that’s not happened for months. Oh, and there are blackberries ripening in the hedgerows!

Since Michael gave up teaching, we’ve not had to worry about the dates of school terms; but even in our household, August is a month to pause, take stock, revel in the warmth and sunshine (and yes, there has been some of that), admire our beautiful hanging baskets (courtesy of Eric at Go Green Devon) and prepare for the coming seasons.

In my writing life, August is my December. During my week at the wonderful Swanwick Writers’ Summer School, I review my achievements from the past twelve months; celebrate my successes; and forgive myself for any goals not fulfilled (after all, I’m doing this because I love it, so I’m not going to spoil things by feeling guilty if I’ve slipped a little at times). And then I plan the coming year.

Since we came to Devon, I have been revelling in semi-rural, small-town life and have thrown myself into all sorts of activities. When I’ve told people I am a full-time writer, I have qualified it with “but I only work about half the time, as there’s so much else to do.” But this is our tenth year here, and I’m taking this year for me, and my writing.  I have set myself a true stretch target: two further novels plus one, or possibly two, non-fiction books, plus relaunching of my current portfolio. More about that in the coming weeks.

It’s a huge ask, and I may not achieve everything, but I’ve always believed that the higher you aim, the better. If I reach for the summit and slip a bit, I should still land further up the slope than if I’d only been aiming at the foot-hills.

Thursday is 1st September; my New Year’s Day. Not so much the end of summer; more the beginning of a new writing year. Happy New Year!

By Elizabeth Ducie

Elizabeth Ducie was a successful international manufacturing consultant, when she decided to give it all up and start telling lies for a living instead.

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