Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Reliable as meteorology

I'm speaking of my chosen profession—writing. Just a quick rant from me on the topic of weather and wordsmithery and mood.

I live in New England, a region infamous for its bipolar weather patterns. November is particularly unpredictable, when it could be 34°, gusting and sunny one day, 59° and drizzly the next, haling the day after. Moods can feel that way too. Cheerful and productive yesterday, gloomy and uninspired tomorrow. I'm a pretty moody bastard, but my outlook tends to swing in intervals of several days. Three or four productive, upbeat days when I write three thousand words each morning and tackle my paperwork diligently, followed by two where it feels like five hundred tooth extractions getting as many lackluster words on the digital page.

Sometimes I think the weather feeds into my mood. A week of clouds and rain suck the life out of me, and a walk in the sun can shift me out of a funk. But other times, the storms or sunshine in my head feel as random as the ones outside.

I know I'm not the only one at the mercy their moods. Like forecast blurbs, I notice from day to day on Twitter as my fellow writers fluctuate. One day they're chatty and excited, tweeting about their excellent word count or new story idea. The next they're grumbly, in need of commiseration and a kick in the butt just to open up the work-in-progress. Why are we so inconsistent? Why is out chemistry seemingly designed to vary so much from day to day?

Over the years I've been fortunate in gaining a lot of self awareness on this topic (thanks, awesome psychotherapist mom!) When I was in my teens and early twenties I was pretty much at the mercy of my moods, then I got fed up with that and read a lot of Gary Zukav, learned to see my moods as physical manifestations in my body, rather than proof that there was something to feel angry or sad or maniacally happy about. Awesome tool. Now I feel jealous and I think, "Hmm, I feel a sour sensation in my solar plexus. My body is reacting to a feeling of jealousy. Oh well, it'll pass." I don't think, "Goddamn it, Jane just got a new book contract and I haven't had one in months! It's not fair! Why do I bother? I must suck!" To be fair to myself, I was never that petulant, but you see what I mean. Foul moods, like foul weather, will pass, if we're patient and rational and wait it out.

I'm cool with my moods being what they are, but as calm and non-reactionary as I usually manage to be about them, that doesn't help me tweeze the words out on a day when each letter and apostrophe and space feels like water torture. I couldn't tell you yet which mood I'm in today, but I'd guess it's somewhere in the middle. This post is flowing easily, yet I suspect I wrote it so I could put off some rewrites that intimidate me. Well, I'm shit out of luck now. Time to face the storm.


  1. Interesting post, Meg. I grew up ignoring my moods (read: catholic school upbringing...), not realizing that moods are a powerful source of inspiration. One question for you: who is Gary Zukav? His ideas sound interesting...

  2. Hey Kat!

    Gary Zukav is a former Green Beret, who used to have major rage issues and a sex addiction, and is now a spiritual teacher. He's been on Oprah quite a few times, I believe. He's written several books with varying degrees of oovy-grooviness. He's quite spiritual, which I don't believe I myself am, but he's also got a very practical outlook on things like anxiety and moods and handling one's emotions which I've found exceedingly helpful in my everyday life. If you're interested, I recommend The Heart of the Soul: Emotional Awareness.

  3. Hm...a Green Beret, eh? ...the plot thickens...
    Umm...oh, Oprah. I've heard of her. I don't watch TV, can you tell? Thanks for the recommend, I'll definitely check it out...especially if we don't get some sunshine around here soon...!

  4. Meg.
    I understand what you mean about the swing in moods, like the swing in weather. Yesterday down and today up. Many times it just takes a quiet minute in front of my laptop in a back room to get me excited about writing.

    Interesting topic.

    Michelle Libby

  5. I can SO releate to this! I used to have a good "therapist" friend (she was really a middle school teacher) who taught me this wonderful too I had nearly forgotten until you talked about this Gary guy.

    Part of my problem (growing up wasp) is feeling guilty for even having emotions! Argh. Talk about double whammy! Here's what she taught me to do: Name the feeling, then accept myself with that feeling.

    Example: I feel murderous rage, and I'm okay. (Hee hee) Yes, I actually wrote that in my journal one night.

    Basically, no matter what I feel, I'm okay. i.e. normal, human. Ahhhhhhhh...What a relief!