SAD (seasonal affective disorder) infects a lot of people, especially sensitive people who make up the greater part of artists, poets, and writers. It is compounded by loss and personal tragedy, even by events occurring to our friends and loved ones.
I think SAD has been worsened by climate change, because a true “season” is hard to come by. One day it’s spring, the next, it’s dead of winter. Summer lasts through December, skipping fall altogether. It throws me off balance, along with much of the rest of the natural world.
The desire to throw up one’s hands and run away to Canada in the current political climate is as strong as the desire to spend long hours under the bright lights of a gym or snuggled beneath the blankets of a warm bed. Or perhaps like me, you can barely take your eyes off the embarrassing circus, as candidates outperform one another in order to become the next president. The knowledge that such buffoonery is being played out in front of the rest of the world is enough to give anyone cause for SADness.
Yet, this is the exact time and place and climate in which we must do our work. My writing cannot depend on the circumstances of weather, mood, or politics, no matter how dismaying. One very personal reason to keep writing at these times is that it may be the only thing that helps me feel better. No matter what I write, whether it gladdens or saddens me; brings me joy, comfort, or is a wake up call to face the deep secrets that are part of who I am, I know I will be changed by the pen moving across the page or my fingers tapping out these words on the keyboard.
As Leigh said, “There are days you are really glad you’re married while other days you stay married because you said you would.” That is the perfect definition of fidelity. Whether you are being faithful to that drawing a day, to those submissions every week, to the poetry you need to revise, or to a book you’re working on, this is what you do. You do it, despite everything.
That’s not to say there won’t be times when we must hit the pause button. Your parents need you. You’re sick. You’re sick and tired. So take a few days to work in the garden, go for long walks, or to be compassionate. Better yet, do something different, something that takes minutes instead of hours. You may be delighted with the results as you catch your conscious self off guard.
Every time I go to church with my folks, I manage to write a poem on the bulletin between the time the organist begins playing the prelude and the minute the first hymn is sung. True, I can’t always find the right page in the hymnal, but heck, a preacher’s kid knows the first verse anyway.
So here I am today, telling you I don’t feel like doing this, but I’ve left you hanging long enough. It’s my other “I do.” It’s my commitment to work. Like marriage, there’s no vacation (even when you’re away) and no retirement. It’s only over when it’s over. Get a ring or a rubber band. Marry yourself to it. I like ink because right there, on my wrist where I can’t miss it, is the reminder of my commitment to my art. I made it impossible to ignore, and I’m glad.
Write. This is what I do.