Happy vs. Sad

June 8, 2006

When I’m at my most miserable–that’s when I write my best poetry.”–Anonymous.

Ah, the dilemma. When do we, as writers, do our “best” writing? Is it when we’re happy and life is going our way? Or is it when we’re depressed or grief-stricken?

Perhaps it would depend on your genre. A well-known horror writer claimed he’d written his best stuff while he was in a mental black hole and wasted out of his mind.
Another well-known romance writer has said she has to be in a happy state, (with her Celtic music playing softly in the background, no less) in order for the Muse to acquiesce.

When have you churned out your best writing? I like to think of it as the Devil vs. Angel Muse. You know how in movies and cartoons people have a “shoulder angel” on one side and a “shoulder devil” on the other, telling them what to do, and oftentimes clashing.

Well, apply that to your muse. Do you have a Happy muse or a Sad muse? I myself must have a Sad muse–when I was stuck in a certain place (that for now shall remain nameless) and I felt like I had no friends and wanted to just sleep all day, well, THAT’S when I churned out one of my best novels ever–in less than 30 days.

Take Individual A: When he/she’s happy, they find they tend to neglect their writing. Sure, the ideas are constantly flowing in, like the tide (as it happens with most writers) but the motivation to get the words out onto paper (the writing process) seems forced, unnatural.
This individual finds that only when he/she is in the “depths of despair,” they are able to write and write and write and write.

Then there’s Individual B: who writes their best only when Life is Good, and no other time.

A great many writers in history fall into the “A” category. (Then there’s always the nasty joke about “suicidal poets,” which we won’t get into here.)

I prefer to ask the question: Why is it that when we are feeling emotions the most, whether sadness or elation, the Muse is at its best?

Food for thought.


One comment

  1. Because the emotion builds up and we have to let it out. As writers, we try to dissect, understand, and communicate what we find.

    Nice post.

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