What Does “September” Mean?
The month of September was the seventh month in the Roman calendar but became the ninth month in the modern calendar. The shift disconnected the root of its name “septem” (seven in Latin) from its new status as the ninth month. As a writer, this bothers me. Words and months should say what they mean!
A number of popular songs, including “Try to Remember,” pay tribute to the month of September. Tom Jones penned the lyrics and Harvey Schmidt wrote the score of the song, forever tying together the words “September” and “remember,” and “mellow” with “fellow.” The musical “The Fantastiks” made the song famous in the 1960s on Broadway. The show’s 17,162 performances off-Broadway spanned an incredible 42 years. Recorded over the following years by other musicians, the melody and lyrics are firmly rooted in memories of lovers of musicals, including my own, although I never saw the play.
In my mind, September is a vibrant month. I always wake up a bit when the cooler, colorful days of September come to my part of the country. To me, September is about energy: children heading back to school (school never used to start until after Labor Day), farmers harvesting, stacking bales, and marketing their hay, and cities buzzing with the return of college and university students. Late blooming asters colorize the garden. Autumn color begins to display its grandeur.
September in Fiction
September is a popular month in fiction. The harvest moon appears larger than normal in September, lighting up the night sky. This month it will shine in all its glory on the tenth of September. The drama of the harvest moon is attractive to novelists.
Multiple novels have the name of this month in their title—to name a few: Rosamonde Pilcher’s September, September Moon by Candice Proctor, another September Moon by Constance O’Banyon, September Saturdays by James Lewis, September Morning by Diana Palmer, and Fierce September by Fleur Beale.
In The Open Window: Tales of the Months (1908), Mabel Osgood Wright focuses on September as a month of beginnings, endings, and reprisals, albeit over a period of thirty years. In the chapter entitled: “SEPTEMBER—The Moon of Falling Leaves,” John Hale and Jane Mostyn had fallen in love in their youth in Italy when they shared a gondolier in Venice under the supervision of a neighbor from their hometown in the northeastern United States. Years later, after encountering obstacle after obstacle that prevented their union, they meet in the woods above their properties. Wright uses a beautiful metaphor to reflect the love of the now middle-aged spinsters. John observes Jane whose hair has turned silver and is nostalgically dressed in the same gown she was wearing when they took the ride in the gondolier.
“‘What is that you are gathering?’ Hale asked, transferring the basket to his arm and touching the feathers lightly; ‘I’ve never seen it before, and yet it grows here in profusion.’
‘Groundsel-tree.’ she answered; ‘You might pass by week in and out and never notice it, for its flower has no beauty; for that it must wait until frost releases its seed wings. I love the dear, shy thing; it has blown from the lowlands, and it keeps one’s courage up.’”
Thus, Wright ties September to the latter period of the lovers’ lives when, despite years of frustration, their love has the possibility of renewal.
In All Day September (Astounding Science Fiction, 1959), Roger Kuykendall, uses September in a unique way, reversing the typical image of the moon. The story takes place on the Moon itself. The main character looks down and observes the light of September on Earth from his position on the moon. In the story, the passage of time on the moon is slower than time on Earth. The author creates tension in the story through the lack of time Evans has to return to his settlement on the Moon before his oxygen runs out.
“The meteor, a pebble, a little larger than a match head, traveled through space and time since it came into being. The light from the star that died when the meteor was created fell on Earth before the first lungfish ventured from the sea.
In its last instant, the meteor fell on the Moon. It was impeded by Evans’ tractor.
It drilled a small, neat hole through the casing of the steam turbine, and volitized [sic] upon striking the blades. Portions of the turbine also volitized [sic]; idling at eight thousand RPM, it became unstable. The shaft tried to tie itself into a knot, and the blades, damaged and undamaged were spit through the casing. The turbine again reached a stable state, that is, stopped. Permanently stopped.
It was two days to sunrise, where Evans stood.
It was just before sunset on a spring evening in September in Sydney. The shadow line between day and night could be seen from the Moon to be drifting across Australia.
Evans, who had no watch, thought of the time as a quarter after Australia.”
September in My Fiction
In one of my novels, September is a time of beginnings because several of the main characters are college students.
My Writing Goals for 2022
Publish my second book of poetry:
I integrated the revisions suggested by my poetry editor. I still have work to do to prepare the chapbook for publication.
Finish, request feedback, and send my first novel out for review:
This month, I studied more about my topic. I keep learning more but I do not know if it is helping. When I worry about reading too much about the topic, I remember that other authors mention the number of books they had to read and the exhaustive research they had to do to write. I have heard authors mention from 50 to 1000 books—so I am still on the lower end of the continuum.
Continue to work on my other novels:
The critique group gave me feedback on about two thousand words of the novel I am working on with them. One commented, “It is rich. I can see the scene and the people.” Another member said, “I want some foreshadowing and some more conflict in the character’s head.”
Continue to develop a network of kindred spirits in the world of writing and publishing:
Boulder Writers Alliance: I held a Steering Committee meeting. I attended Caitlin Berve’s Zoom workshop on writers learning to use video to build their online presence using Tiktok and other video presentations to advertise and market their books.
Denver Women’s Press Club: I read the newsletter and wished that I had time to attend the fall garden party.
Women Writing the West: I followed the public group discussion. It is useful because the authors provide resources and suggestions.
Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers: I listened to an informative RMFW podcast in which Mark Stevens interviewed Amy Collins who works as an agent for Talcott Notch Literary Services.
Document my writing progress through my blog and post it on the seventh day of each month, one blog per month in 2022:
Today is September 7, 2022, and I am posting my ninth blog of 2022. The last month has been full of activities and work.
Wilnona Marie, from the And I Thought Ladies, interviewed me about my writing. The interview is posted on YouTube and below.
Today in History: Taylor Caldwell, author of Dynasty of Death, Dear and Glorious Physician, and other novels, was born on September 7, 1900.