The ups and downs

The other day when I was out shopping, a couple of strangers and I had one of those little riffs of socializing that make trips to the store about more than just bags of groceries. It started when the guy at the register asked me how I was doing, and I glanced outside and said that since the sun was shining at the moment I was doing just fine (we’e2’80’99ve had a lot of rain lately) and the woman next to me chimed in with how she knew what I meant, her mood swung up and down. So the man and I tossed around for a minute how this kind of weather turns us all a little bipolar (Santa Cruz being the kind of town where the guy at the register knows the term ‘e2’80’98bipolar’e2’80’99 instead of the old ‘e2’80’98manic-depressive’e2’80’99.) and how when the sun comes out we’e2’80’99re all bouncing and chipper and then Eeyore crawls back when the grey washes across the blue, and then he gave me my change and I wheeled my bags out to the car and drove home feeling that I’e2’80’99m living in the right place, even if the weather could use a hell of a lot of improving. (Did I mention that it’e2’80’99s been raining, a lot, of late?)

And it occurred to me that the same process is going on with the writing. One day I’e2’80’99ll pound out 3500 words in no time at all, I’e2’80’99ll walk away feeling strong and satisfied and knowing just what’e2’80’99s going on next, and still have the energy to go do something useful like file a stack of papers that’e2’80’99s been waiting forever, all the while knowing that I’e2’80’99ll have the first draft out of the way by the end of the month and it’e2’80’99s genius and my existence on this earth is justified. And then the next morning I sit down and it’e2’80’99s all gone blank. The sequence is gone, the events I’e2’80’99d planned don’e2’80’99t make any sense now, the motivation for the situation is shaky and insubstantial, and I sigh and plod out words, checking the count every couple of paragraphs until I come justifiably close to 1500 to quit for the day.

I’e2’80’99m not much of a drinker, but I can sure understand why a lot of writers self-medicate.

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  1. Vicki Larson on March 17, 2006 at 2:48 pm

    I live in Minnesota and as I look out I see bright sun on snow. Blinding, really. But it makes all the difference. When the sun is not shining brightly, it looks drab and cold out there. As to your experience writing, I suppose you just have to glory in the ups and endure the downs. At least, you DO have the ups, thank goodness. We love your writing regardless of how it comes about. Never stop!!!!!!!! Pleeeeeze.

  2. chris on March 17, 2006 at 3:58 pm

    Yesterday in snowed in Edinburgh and we had gale force winds most of the day – today it is bright, sunny and a relatively mind 40 degrees. What a difference that little bit of sunshine does make. But hey, isn’t it always sunny in CA, or is that the LA myth…? Might explain why I love Northern California and never go to the south…

    I hope that Touchstone progresses well, and I look forward with eager anticipation to TAOD!

    Best wishes

  3. Linda C on March 17, 2006 at 6:16 pm

    Oh, can I identify! “Seattle Sunshine” can sometimes be measured in inches/hour for weeks on end. We’re all affected with S.A.D. a little bit here. Even having a latte stand on evey corner doesn’t quite make up for months of gray. But thanks to global warming, we’re now having on average 5 months of drought and only 7 months of rain.

  4. bani on March 17, 2006 at 6:23 pm

    Oh, I know just how you all feel, my mood totally depends on the weather. Call me bipolar if you must! Rain can feck off. And snow too – at least when we’re half-way through March, for the love of God.

  5. Erin on March 17, 2006 at 6:58 pm

    What has been with the weather lately? I’m in the Sacramento area and we’ve been getting this half-and-half weather. The mornings are beautiful with bright sun, clear sky, and warmth; then afternoon hits and with it comes ugly, dark clouds, chilly winds, and hail. *sigh*

    *grins* Just think! If you were just a little farther east you’d have super productive mornings and depressing afternoons.

  6. Anonymous on March 17, 2006 at 9:27 pm

    I live in Wisconsin and for the past few days it’s been in the upper 30’s! It makes me so happy when the sun is out. Man, it looks HOT outside! I don’t even have to sleep with the portable heater turned on to high anymore. Spring is here. Hooray!

  7. AlyssC01 on March 18, 2006 at 9:32 am

    I can understand the bipolar moodswings caused by weather though I’m completely the opposite!! The moment the sun comes out I start getting depressed (I live in a VERY sunny country) and when it’s cloudy I’m on top of the world!! I was born on the wrong continet.

  8. WDI on March 18, 2006 at 12:12 pm

    It’s funny, but even after almost 20 years of living east of the Mississippi (and having spent slightly more years than that in Central and Northern CA), I still equate gray, rainy skies with cold weather. And definitely gloom. I’ve discovered that I can handle reasonably cold (by southern VA standards) days as long as it’s sunny; I don’t even like spring-like temperatures if it’s cloudy and gray.

    Laurie, here’s hoping the sun returns, literally and metaphorically, and the “up” days outnumber the “downs” by a substantial margin!

  9. Anonymous on March 18, 2006 at 8:45 pm

    Here in Virginia, we have been buffeted between extremes: 80 degree days followed by windy days with temps in the 40s. Very, very dry. Too dry!

    If I thought you were an irisarian, I would send you a few of my aptly named, tall bearded irises. BIPOLAR SUNRISE, MOON OVER MADNESS, and MELANCHOLY MOMENT are just a few of the iris varieties I have bred.(For sale by catalog from Rockytop Gardens in Eagleville, TN.) Iris Lady

  10. Anonymous on March 18, 2006 at 10:28 pm

    We have hurricanes here on the gulf coast, but the sun is shining and its in the 80s! So we are all feeling pretty good even if the house is covered with a blue plastic tarp, have not heard from insurance or FEMA in months, and a new hurricane season is only 90 days away—but hey, we are really happy about life!!

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