Winter. February. Long dark days. The time when writers in the northern hemisphere scribble in the shadows. Winter is a good season for writers because we are more likely to stay inside at our writing stations and less tempted to fritter time away sunbathing on the beach. And even if the sun appears for a brief, shining moment of glory on the morning of February 2nd, an overly curious groundhog pops his head out of the ground, sees his stumpy shadow, and we are plunged back down into eight more weeks of bleak, depressing gloom. This may be a grimmer description of the season than my California winter actually warrants, but it works for my blog, so I’m sticking to it.
Not all shadows are caused by the sun. When Swiss psychiatrist and author Carl Jung popped his head out of his unconscious mind as a young man, his shadow appeared and he was plunged onto eight more years of psychoanalysis. Jung made the most of his psychic winter by turning it into a career that included; founding a new school of psychology, writing several dense books and achieving international recognition. Jung’s posthumous and recently published Red Book is an amazing chronicle of his dark night of the soul, which was the foundation for his personal transformations and decades of innovative work that followed. He was an astoundingly prolific writer for the rest of his life.
As writers, we have that advantage. The difficult, frightening, aversive and overwhelming aspects of our lives are a trial, to be sure, but they also make excellent literary fuel. And writing allows us to explore, express and even heal the shadows that dwell inside. If we’re lucky, we might even make a few bucks while we’re at it.