I don't know what it as about the autumn that always makes it seem like a new beginning. Some people use the New Year to make a fresh start, but for perpetual students, teachers, and professors like me, autumn is the time for new beginnings. I always speak of years in terms of school years, and probably always will.
You wouldn't know it was autumn here in South Texas. Like green, I miss seasons, but there is still a sense of palpable change in the air. Next week, I'll have completely new students, some of whom are attending university for the first time. That's always exciting--to be part of their freshmen experience. In addition to upper-division students, I've had the opportunity to teach freshmen almost every year I've been a college instructor, and their nervous excitement is catching. They come in, eyes wide and almost frightened, none of them knowing what to expect or how to behave. I like to think I have at least a small part in making them feel at home and challenging them to think in new and critical ways about the world around them. Besides being a writer, teaching is the best job, really.
This autumn is also a change for me in terms of my own writing. My new book, Gnarled Hollow, is a ghost story, and a pretty creepy one at that. There is a lesbian romance at the heart of the novel, but the paranormal/mystery genre is new for me as an author. The novel includes elements of everything I love--higher education, lesbian relationships, art, literature--but it's a completely new direction for me in terms of structure and mood. As I was writing it, I felt like I'd finally found my grove. It wrote quickly, faster than anything I've ever done, almost effortlessly. I think I've finally recognized that, while I love traditional romance novels, it was, perhaps, mystery and thrillers that I was meant to write. I felt good, excited, as I was writing it, and I've never been more proud of something I've written.
So this autumn really is a new direction, both for me as a writer and my for students. I can't wait to see what happens next.