Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Winter Solstice

Much of my WIP, Polar Night, centers around the Winter Solstice. I have always felt there was something magical and mystical about this time, and I find it interesting that while the solstice marks the shortest day of the year, and therefore the longest period of darkness, it also represents a turning point and begins the march back towards the light. I find the ancient Solstice traditions so intriguing, and I think it's fascinating that so many of our current winter holiday customs can be traced back to these ancient rituals designed to bring light to the darkness.

My story takes place in Alaska, primarily in Fairbanks and in the town of Coldfoot. The Solstice in Fairbanks will be today at 8:30 PM, while the sun will rise at 10:58 AM, and set at 2:40 PM. In Coldfoot, the day is even shorter, as the sun will not rise until 12:30 PM, and will set at 1:30 PM! I can't imagine a "day" like this. I have enough trouble with our short days here, when the sun sets a little after 5:00 PM. 

But the Solstice worked perfectly for my story, and in fact gave me the kick of inspiration I needed to move forward with writing. When I first started writing for my main character, he lived in Los Angeles, and the whole story took place in California. But I kept finding myself stalled, and I didn't feel like the story was gelling at all. When I transported my character to Alaska, and set the story during the cold and darkness of an Alaskan winter, my imagination went into overdrive and everything seemed to fall into place.

So I'm thinking about my WIP as we mark the Winter Solstice here in the Northern Hemisphere, and I'm hoping these dark and gloomy winter days will give me the inspiration I need to finish the first draft of my story. While I hate winter weather, the season itself has proven to be an unexpected source of light and inspiration.

Alaskan Sunset

It snowed and snowed ,the whole world over,
Snow swept the world from end to end.
A candle burned on the table;
A candle burned.

Boris Pasternak ~ Winter Night


  1. Hi Julie! Great post. I, too, love the Winter and Summer Soltices. And yes, it's kind of strange that on the first day of winter, the days begin to get a minute or so "longer." It seems like it should be the opposite, but hey..what do I know?! Merry Christmas to you! hugs...Becky

  2. Love this post on the winter solstice. I often think about what it was like for people living centuries ago, dependent on the rhythms of nature. I would celebrate the return of the sun big time too!

    Your novel sounds COOL. Ha! Seriously, I can see how moving it to Alaska would get your imagination going.

    Merry Christmas, Julie.

  3. I love the prologue for Polar Night-very intriguing. Now that I'm a desert dweller, I can't say I have much love for winter, but Alaska in the winter is certainly a great setting for a book.

    Happy Holidays Julie!

  4. I hate the dull, dark days of winter. It's great that you've got such inspiration from it though. I've just blogged about candles and the shortest day too.

  5. I'm a fan of winter. I'll duck as I say it! Love those photos. So pretty.

    Happy holidays to you and yours!

  6. I've always thought that New Year's Eve should be on the Winter Solstice. Doesn't that make more sense?

    Best of luck with your novel. I'm glad to read your creative juices are flowing.

  7. A great post Julie, here in the UK many gather at Stonehenge whenever there is a winter or summer soltice.


  8. What a beautiful post! Your WIP sounds very intriguing. Lots of luck with it!

  9. @Becky, LOL, I agree but I don't know anything either. :D Hugs and Happy Holidays to you as well! :)

    @LG, thanks! I would hate to live in Alaska, but there is something so intriguing about it, it's fun to write about. Merry Christmas to you too!

    @Tim, thank you! I am envious and would be happy to be a desert dweller. I hate dealing with winter weather but for some reason I like writing about it. Happy Holidays to you and your family!

    @Rosalind, I hate them too. I love that the winter traditions like lighting candles and trees are connected to these ancient rituals, it's so interesting to me.

    @Christine, LOL, no need to duck! :D Thank you so much, happy holidays to you as well.

    @Kara, that's a good point about New Year's Eve, it would make sense. Thank you!

    @Yvonne, oh, I think it would be awesome to visit Stonehenge on the Solstice. I would love to do that some time.

    @Lisa, thank you!

  10. I love solstices. I wanted to see the summer solstice at Stonehenge, but alas it wasn't to be. Maybe next time. Moving a story to a different setting is a great way to get those creative juices going. :D
    Have the Happiest of Holidays!


  11. @nutschell, that's a shame you weren't at Stonehenge for the solstice, that would be so cool. Thank you and I hope you have a wonderful holiday too! :)

  12. What a brilliant move on your part, changing the location to Alaska during the Winter Solstice! And one hour of daylight, I'd have a problem with that, too. Like, you, I'm not a big fan of the sun setting around 5:00 p.m. Sounds like a great setting.

  13. Winter time is a great opportunity for going within, to turn the darkness into creative space. I think the Solstice appeals to us because it is a natural event that puts us back in touch with cycles of Nature. That's also a potent mix for novel characters to behave in ways that can shock and delight us!

  14. I love winter solstice. I think times like the longest and shortest days of the year are the real dates to celebrate and reflect. Our ancestors had it right. That's a true connection to nature.

  15. If I lived in Alaska, I would never want to go to sleep in the summer or get out of bed in the winter. It would take me quite a while to acclimate.

    It's good that Winter has inspired you.

  16. The Winter Solstice is the perfect season for Polar Night! I've heard that Alaska is one of the most beautiful places to visit, and I can't wait to find out more about it in your book. Have a very Merry Christmas Julie, and happy writing! Julie

  17. @LynNerdKelley, thank you! LOL, I kind of felt bad for whining about the sun setting here at 5 when I read about these sunsets in Alaska. I couldn't stand it!

    @Derek, that's a great point about the cycles of Nature, and so true. I hope this will continue to be a great opportunity for me, thanks so much.

    @Theresa, I think so true, it's such a magical time and I love reading about the ancient customs, so interesting.

    @Carol, I agree completely! I guess you can get used to anything but I can't imagine this.

    @Julie, thank you so much, I really appreciate your support! Happy Holidays to you and your family!


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