For the last couple months, I’ve received a certain type of message three or four times a week.
It’s usually from a long-lost college pal or a Facebook friend or a regular blog reader who happened to be spelunking the caves of Slovenia when I announced my divorce.
I’m so sorry, the message will start.
I didn’t hear about it until just now.
How are you doing?
There’s usually a paragraph or two of wonderful, heartfelt sentiment – a personal experience with divorce, a virtual butt pat, a reminder that things will get better.
I appreciate the messages more than you can imagine, and I’m touched each time I open one.
I don’t mean I have someone under my desk waiting to grope me while I read my email, though that is on my personal fantasy list.
No, I mean I’m emotionally moved by the arrival of one of these notes. They mean a lot to me.
And yet, they’re always a little jarring.
The truth is, I’m doing great. Ridiculously, joyfully great.
I won’t lie, things were bumpy there at first. I’ll also admit there are days I’d rather stick my hand in a blender and hit pulse than deal with the details of deciding who gets the sofa or whether the dog counts as an asset or a liability.
But for the most part, I feel stupidly happy 98% of the time.
I’ve also grown a little protective of that feeling. I want to nurture it, coddle it, make sweet-sweet love to it in a room filled with sage scented candles and Barry White playing on the iPod.
A co-worker once described me as the least moody person she’s ever met. Years later, I still consider that one of the best compliments I’ve ever gotten. More than anything, it’s due to momentum. I make up my mind to be happy, and if I put my head down and keep plowing forward, I pretty much stay that way.
I think that’s one reason I’ve been procrastinating this round of edits on my third contracted novel. For those playing along at home, this is the romantic comedy I was writing while my marriage was falling apart like a cheap sex toy. Given those circumstances, there was no way the story wouldn’t end up with a more melancholy tone than the first two.
My three critique partners and three beta readers did a fabulous job of kicking my ass and whipping the story into shape so it might make readers want to laugh instead of drown themselves in the toilet. By the time it got to my amazing agent, she assured me she would feel more than confident sending it to my editor as-is.
And yet…and yet….something was still “off.”
She knew it, I knew it, and we spent a long time on the phone trying to figure it out.
And now I’ve spent a month just marinating on those notes.
I say “marinating” because it sounds a lot less lazy than “procrastinating,” but that’s certainly a part of it. The truth is, I’m a little afraid to dive back into that story. I was in such a dark place when I wrote it, and I worry that diving back in will put me there again.
On the other hand, isn’t this the best time to do it?
Let’s all pause and snicker and point out to ourselves that it’s always a good time to do it.
Seriously though, the story needs an injection of joy and humor and confidence and flirtation. In my new-and-improved state of mind, shouldn’t I be able to bring those things to the manuscript instead of fearing the manuscript will drag me down like some medieval sea creature with a taste for virgin flesh?
One way or another, I'll find out this weekend. I've carved out ample time to sit my butt in the chair with my hands on the keyboard and the manuscript spread open before me like a willing hussy. I'm determined to conquer her and she may be determined to conquer me, but somewhere in the middle, we'll probably meet up and ravage each other to the point of blissful exhaustion.
What impact does your mood have on your writing? Are there times you just can’t bring yourself to write the sort of scene or story you need to be writing? A happy day when you need to craft a dark and dreary death scene, or a gloomy funk while you’re writing about a wedding?
And for the record, I don’t own any sage scented candles or Barry White music. Perhaps I should remedy that?