The Return of the Light | The Turning of the Year | Sara Biren

Tomorrow, December 21, is the winter solstice, the shortest day and the longest night of the year. The solstice—meaning “sun stands still”—signals the return of the light, the turning of the year. It is a time of transition and a time of renewal.

The Seasons of a Writing Life

This year, more than any other, I have embraced the shifts of the seasons. I have spent more time outdoors than any other year in recent memory (part of my commitment to friluftsliv, or open-air life). I have been more aware of the weather and how my time spent outdoors—or not—impacts my mood. This year, I have sought open air and sunshine daily, craving fresh air and light.

The writing life, I’ve found, is cyclical like the seasons. A long parade of days with many words and ideas and then, endless weeks of blank pages. Sometimes I don’t even sit down at the desk. Dreamy days of possibilities, good news, and achievements followed by moments when the success of others gnaws at you with sharp teeth. Days of motivation and motion, when you keep moving forward, and then, days of standing still, like the sun at the solstice.

Here, too, I acknowledge the cold darkness and am grateful for the light.

A Look Back

2023, it seems, has been more standing still than moving forward—at least where my writing is concerned. But there have been small wins and moments of brilliance and warmth: I buckled down and finished a novel that I started five years ago, a book that I really love and hope to someday be able to share with others. I started two other novels and have dabbled at reworking a shelved manuscript. I attended a few book festivals and made connections with other writers. I’ve read 84 books (to date), some of them life-changing and unforgettable. I completed both the Ice Age Trail Mammoth Hike Challenge in October and the yearlong 52-Hike Challenge—both of which directly relate to what I like to call “writer wellness” and were sources of endless inspiration.

The Return of the Light

As the year comes to an end, I look back on my accomplishments with pride and satisfaction, and I look ahead to a new year brimming with possibilities with optimism and commitment to my career and my writing goals—the return of the light. I hope the same for you, whatever that looks like.