My December ABBA put up at all times falls on St Lucy’s Day, a day to consider gentle within the darkness. St Lucy (Lucia) is claimed as a patron saint for all kinds of disparate teams, from the blind, to cutlers, to these affected by throat infections or dysentery. The legends and traditions which have grown up round her, like lots of our winter festivities, are a combination of Christian and older Pagan rituals. Many different religions even have festivals of sunshine, this yr’s Hannukah encompassing St Lucy’s Day. Within the Julian calendar her feast day roughly coincided with the winter solstice, therefore Donne’s assertion that ‘’Tis the yr’s midnight, and it’s the day’s’.
One factor is certain, whichever calendar you employ, and no matter your beliefs and background, it is a darkish time of what has been a darkish yr. No marvel we have to have fun gentle, particularly when, in Donne’s phrases, ‘The world’s complete sap is sunk’.
A lot of my author mates, together with myself, are feeling very a lot as if our sap is sunk. We’re exhausted, or struggling to seek out motivation or inspiration. We’re apprehensive about not getting publishing contracts, or about making a dwelling with dwindling or no advances. We put all our energies into books which can or might not do nicely. In December we strive to not hope that our books will likely be included in seasonal round-ups of individuals’s favorite reads of the yr. Whereas pretending that we don’t thoughts a bit.
And underneath all of this, there’s the guilt. The world is struggling a lot. Our fellow people are struggling a lot. What proper have I to fret that I mightn’t get a contract for the guide I’m writing? What does it actually matter if I didn’t make that prize listing, or that round-up? Certain, it issues to my pleasure and sense of self, and my incomes capability, however I received’t starve, or lose my house and nation. And on the finish of the day, it’s solely tales. I’m not saving individuals’s lives, or combating for justice.
However individuals want tales. Folks want leisure. And no, we mustn’t look away from struggling. However typically, with the intention to have the wherewithal to assist others – these shut and people additional away – people must be distracted for some time. And authors present that distraction. When individuals inform me they learn my newest guide on vacation, or recovering from Covid, or that it helped cheer them up or get them out of a studying rut, that makes me blissful.
Books and tales have at all times lit up my life, and by no means extra so than now. So allow us to, this St Lucy’s Day, keep in mind that now we have all given gentle with our tales.
And that listing of people who St Lucy is patron saint of? It contains writers.