When I was in the final stages of writing the first draft of the novel, I was feeling so good that I knew the feeling couldn’t last. When you’re in a good mood, it’s impossible to fathom a bad mood coming. But I knew it was on its way! I had no idea what I was going to feel unhappy about, because there’s really nothing in my life that is particularly bad, but I knew it was coming.
And here it is.
Now that the semester has started, I need to write some short stories for workshop, and it is proving to be extremely slow going. Last semester, I was on fire, producing much more than I needed to for workshop. This semester, not so much. The world simply seems drained of meaning. I can imagine all kinds of stories, but they don’t seem interesting. It’s hard for me to imagine what a person could care about or why they would bother.
It’s not a depressed mood, so much as a mild anhedonia.
Still, when I was in this mood last year, I produced at least one extremely good story, so we’ll see. There are only two ways to write when you’re in this mood: the first is to go deeper inside and try to pin down the thing that you need right at this moment; and the second is to get further from yourself and immerse yourself in the richness and specificity of the world.
I am alternating between doing the two.
Writing requires a lot of faith. When you’re working on a story, you need to have faith that it’ll come together (even though there’s a very good chance that it won’t). And when you’re between stories, you need to have faith that something will come along. Without that faith, you end up spending way too much time chasing down every mirage because the act of writing a bad story so much like the act of writing a good one that, as long as you don’t allow yourself to slow down and think, you can very easily convince yourself that you’re doing the latter instead of the former.