The new school year never stops being a thing
Even as a fully grown, if not superannuated, adult, I retain the sense that September is more of a new start than January. Sure, January sees Christmas and Hogmanay done, and all the reviews of last year, there’s a fresh date to write, and resolutions have been made. But for all that, the new year doesn’t mark as big a change as September.
September. It’s not just that this marked the start of the new academic year, with new subjects being studied at a higher level. It’s not just that a new cohort of younger, probably smaller, and more callow younglings regularly entered the system below me, meaning I must be getting older, bigger, and less callow, right?
It’s that September, maybe early October too, is when the earliest rites of passage occur, at least for those of us who never had confirmations and bar-mitzvahs and the like. September: first school. September: moving from primary to “the big school”. Starting O-levels or GCSEs. Starting A-levels. Specialising. Then starting college or university, which for many is not just a major transition in the educational journey, but probably the final one, one we choose for ourselves, for which we are expected to be self-motivated.
More than this: it’s often the first time we live away from mum and dad. We take responsibility for our own finances, for feeding ourselves, and for social and sexual lives that need not, to some extent, be concealed. However mad we go as students, and whatever we study, we’re actually learning to be grownups. And it all started in September.
So, even many years on, September is still a month of review and preview. This time last year I returned to a novel I’d played with for ages, Gog-Magog, and vowed to finish it. I completed the first draft by January, and spent six months, off and on, editing it. I also continued editing A Traitor’s Son, all 210,000 words of it. I also worked on refining a play, Arnold and Cherry, prior to an online rehearsed reading with audience; I wrote a feature screenplay; and one short story.
I await the accolades of full publication and production, but all in all, that’s not too bad.