October is my favorite month, and this year, it's going to be an especially good one.
I'm finally in the swing of things as a new masters student in the English Literature program at the University of Oslo . Getting used to the class schedule took a few weeks. The assigned readings are a little overwhelming sometimes, but I'm interested in almost all of them. The school has a lovely campus, and the leaves in the trees and on the crawling vines have begun to change. The gold, red, and orange fluttering in the chilly autumn breeze makes me think of bouquets of sharpened pencils. It's a good season for learning.
My writing life remains active. I just taught my first creative writing workshop here in Oslo alongside my friend and fellow author, Zoë Harris. Eight students signed up to take our Writing A to Z: Creative Writing Basics class. They were diverse in their interests and backgrounds, and all of them displayed a core curiosity and creative spirit. We had fun sharing our insights about writing with the group--running writing exercises and teaching--and I hope we get a chance to do it again soon.
Tonight, several writer friends of mine will gather in my living room to put our pens to paper together. We've been meeting for three years now . Thanks to them, my life is even more full of words.
Possibly most exciting is my upcoming trip to California. Earlier this year I learned I'd received a fellowship to attend the 2014 Tomales Bay Writing Workshop north of Marin. I leave on the 15th to fly to California. It'll be a quick trip due to the constraints of my school schedule, so I'll only have time to visit with my family. Then I'll have five days of writing and workshopping at the idyllic and isolated Tomales Bay Resort. Best of all? I'll be working in a small group with Pam Houston, one of my favorite modern writers . I've submitting an excerpt of my novel in progress for critique. Can't wait to see it grow!
The novel will also come with me this weekend. I'm running off to the mountains for a mini-writing retreat with two writing friends here in Oslo.
Autumn always puts me in a reflective mood. I pull on thick tights and dark skirts and bright, soft sweaters. I wear a pair of gold earrings shaped like leaves; they used to belong to my mom, and I remember them from my childhood. I bake. Today it's banana bread. Later in the month it'll be October Apple Pie . It's about the smells, the push of pie crust under my fingers, which every day look more and more like the fingers of a woman rather than a child. It's about rushing to use the bounty of the year's harvest, like our farmer ancestors before us.
I love this time of year. Already, candles flicker on our windowsills in the evening. Down comforters are back on our bed. Soon it'll be time for Halloween, National Novel Writing Month , Thanksgiving. Then Christmas. But right now I'm holding my breath. When I exhale, it will be white in the afternoon air. But right now I'm holding my breath. I'm keeping this moment--full of color, full of now-ness, full of presence, importance--just for me. As ever, I'm on the precipice of the rest of my life. It's just that in October, the precious pain of knowing that is more keenly felt .
Happy Octobering to you all.