Saturday, October 26, 2013

Seeing the Light: Writers and Seasonal Affective Disorder - Part Three

So how does SAD affect writers. Are those in Canada, the northern USA, and Scandinavia less prolific in the winter months? Does the cloud cover in Vancouver or in Britain reduce the amount of literary work originating in those areas? Do American writers in Florida create more prose between October and April than their counterparts in Minnesota? 

Is a writer in Australia or South Africa more likely to produce a larger body of work because he or she has more sunlight? Many of us may prefer to escape to a sunnier environment each winter if possible, but would it be to a writer's advantage to live there permanently, in order to become more proficient at his or her chosen craft?

There are undoubtedly writers with SAD who are less motivated to write in the winter. And yet, our ancestors, who had no access to artificial light to illuminate the gloom of winter, still managed to write and their work is no less impressive. Cave paintings may have created in the daytime, when ferocious animals were less likely to be around. Yet in the dark caves, the pictures would have been painted by the light of a flaming torch. 
In ancient Greece and Rome, the works of Plato, Aristotle, Virgil and others may have been composed at night, with very little illumination. Monks in the Middle Ages would also have worked all year round and such works as Beowulf or the Anglo Saxon Chronicle would never have been written if everyone in the scriptorium had SAD. 
Did Shakespeare only write in the spring and summer? Candlelight was his only option if he chose to write his plays and sonnets after the sun had set. The same applied to Samuel Pepys, who we can assume wrote at least a portion of his diary entries in the evening, as he recorded his reflections on the day, in all four seasons. And of course Charles Dickens was a prolific writer for twelve months of each year, with only candlelight, oil or gas lamps to enable him to write.

No comments: