I don’t know if other writers do this or not, but every year on October 10, I mark what I consider my writer’s anniversary.
I think I started writing in about the fifth grade, but the date for my anniversary comes from a story I started in middle school. The story remains (shocking!) unfinished and (sadly) had a weird kind of Sweet Valley High feel to it. It’s probably best that it stays unfinished. We’re all better for it.
So, in celebration of the aforementioned somewhat arbitrary anniversary, October is when I settle back in to writing. I suppose this is a bit of a continuation of yesterday’s “reconnection” theme. Summer is distracting. Words come easier to me once autumn arrives.
But that’s not the only creative pursuit that re-ignites in the fall. A fair few of my fellow knitters are taking up their sticks to make something warm and cozy for the coming winter. All the budding chefs are making stews and chilis and hearty soups. The brewers, bless their hearts, are going darker as we move ever so slowly out of fresh hops season.
At least I hope they are. Yeah, you know who you are. I’m talking to you. Consider this a special request. Something spicy but malty, dark enough that I can’t see through the glass. Or forgo the spice notes and make it smooth and chocolatey. See? I’m not hard to please.
Anyway, back to writing. I know I’ve mentioned this in the past, but it’s something I think is quirky and auspicious: I share a birthday with Mary Shelley. She’s slightly older.
While on holiday one year near Lake Geneva, Switzerland, Mary took up the challenge to write a ghost story. Forced inside by a rainy summer, Mary and her holiday companions (Lord Byron, Percy Blythe Shelley and Byron’s physician, John Polidori) had passed the time reading from a book of German ghost stories. From that little congress, we got both Mary’s Frankenstein and Polidori’s The Vampyre, widely recognized as the precursor to Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
I’ve been to Switzerland. I didn’t write a damn thing while I was there. Of course, I was there in August and, try as I might, I hardly ever write anything worthwhile in August.
But Mary did. She spent the better part of a year (pardon the term) fleshing out her story. Frankenstein was published anonymously in January of 1818. The French 1823 version was the first to carry Mary’s name. Scholars have in turn referred to it as Gothic, Romantic and, in Brian Aldiss’ case, the first real instance of science fiction.
Frankenstein had outlived Mary by 160 years and has spawned pop culture references too numerous to mention here.
But, since you asked, I’ll give you this: