Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Fighting the funk


I'm in a funk. The sky's gray, and so is my mood. I don't like to feel weighted down--lead in my boots, stones sewn in my hem, burdens of a lifetime on my back.
The manuscript that looked so shiny and fun the other day, now lies like a pile of rubbish--shredded scenes, dingy dialogue, pointless plot.
I could use Cher to slap my face and shout, "Snap out of it!" Lacking that, I've looked around for something bright and hopeful.
I found these photos I shot the other day in a bank parking lot. (Sorry to my readers still blanketed by winter.)
Poppies, with their shocking colors and delicate petals bobbing on long stems, are pretty much a pick-me-up.
Flowers of any kind are astonishing. However did such temporary flashes of brilliance, coupled with practical propagation, evolve?
Thoughts such as these always bring me back to the realization that I get to live in this extraordinary world and should damn well make the most of whatever time is allotted me.
I'm going to eat a chocolate croissant for breakfast and run barefoot in my dreams. I'm kicking off the lead boots and yanking the stitches from my hem so the stones can clatter back to the earth where they belong.
And I'm determined to look kindly upon my poor manuscript and see its moments of brilliance (I hope) even as I remedy its flaws.
So what do you do when you need to snap out of it?

46 comments:

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

I love this (and I love love love poppies). Brilliant image of the stones falling from your skirt. Certainly, we do carry our weight with us, don't we? Good luck with the unburdening. I hope you find your way back to a love of your manuscript soon. The insecurities are entirely normal, I think. But with your optimism, I'm fairly certain you'll soon tuck the doubt away.

Davin Malasarn said...

I like poppies a lot too. There aren't many flowers I'm able to name, but poppies are one of them!

I actually embrace this kind of gloom. Every once in awhile, I feel like it gives me a very different insight into the world, a quieter, more introspective one, and I like that.

Rick Daley said...

I fight the funk by exercising. Yoga and running outside are most frequent, but I'm in central Ohio and running outside is not always an option this time of year. Today' I'm going to the health club for a swim instead.

Catherine Denton said...

Those flowers exude hope. When I get in a funk--I step away. I work on another piece or paint or do laundry. A bit of breathing room always helps my manuscript seem fresh when I come back.
Winged Writer

Paul Greci said...

Nice poppies. They remind me of the ones that come up every summer along our garden fence.

To combat a glum, down-on-everything mindset I usually exercise outside. If I have to be inside I crank some Bob Marley. Then when I face that novel I remind myself that I have to make a mess of my story if I want it to get better.
Good luck pushing thru!!

Abby Annis said...

I love this post! Really needed this today. Thank you!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Carolina: Thank you. I wish I didn't swing so high and sink so low, but in talking with other writers I'm relieved to see it seems to happen to many of us.

Davin: Wow, that's a refreshing way to look at the gloom. It certainly lends layers to writing--kind of like the strata in rock, I think.

Rick: I always feel better after hiking up the local mountain or walking on the beach, but some days I don't go and I think that increases potential for funk.

Catherine: I used to do watercolors for fun (I'm not a trained artist). I think it would be good for me to dust off my pencils and brushes, to delve into another form of creativity from time to time. Thanks for that idea.

Paul: Oh, I love the notion that you need to make a mess to make it better. I tend to feel helpless in the mess. I shall turn that around.

Abby: Sisters in funk. ;)

jbchicoine said...

...not sure...haven't quite snapped out of mine yet.
...send out another query I guess...then wait for rejection...in the meantime, fantasize about getting an agent...

...and thanks for posting the cheery poppies; they did perk me up

Donna said...

I see the funk as a piece of junk floating by. So long as the stream keeps moving, the junk will pass and I'll be okay. If I get too absorbed in it, the funk gets stuck and so do I. That orange poppy is a wonderful antidote.

Yat-Yee said...

Oh funk. I have a love-hate relationship with it. In one way, I think I am living more richly because of it, but going through it feels horrible.

I think I will steal your running barefoot in my dreams to help me through my funky periods!

Love them poppies.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I love that picture! I can see how that would help chase away the gray. When I need to snap out of it, I tell my hubby we need to go out for dinner - just the two of us! :-)

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

JB: I love to dream of possible futures. It helps. Glad my poppies brightened your day.

Donna: That's a vivid image--funk floating by and not letting it get stuck. I feel like I should keep a logjam pole handy.

Yat-Yee: I like to visualize us both running barefoot in our dreams. That's a good funk chaser.

Shannon: It's lovely to know your hubby and a good dinner have the power to lift you up.

Suzanne Casamento said...

You're a lot better at snapping out of it than I am. Kudos to you, your chocolate croissant and your manuscript. Go!

Donna said...

Aha! Thanks, Tricia. A logjam pole is perfect. I definitely need that, either virtual or real.

Stephanie Thornton said...

I actually sighed when I saw those poppies. I love poppies- I even managed some Himalayan Blue Poppies in my garden last year. They were gorgeous.

Thanks for the reminder that I won't always be buried in winter's darkness!

Lisa and Laura said...

Oh those flowers! I'm struggling to keep orchids alive in my house just to get some much-needed color around here!

I read a book when I need to snap out of it. That always inspires me!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Suzanne: Ha! Well, those are my tools and pep talk, the result is not always there.

Donna: Imagery is probably gonna help me.

Stephanie: Glad to bring a little hint of spring your way. And I hope you post a picture of those blue poppies when they bloom.

LiLa: I disappear into books all the time. Oh, yeah.

Sarah said...

Those poppies? Gorgeous. Just what I needed.

I've been in a funk for so long I'm not sure I'm allowed to call it that anymore (or give you any advice on how to snap out of it). Mostly, I just keep doing. And some days, it's exciting and sparkly and okay. And other days...*gag*. But I'm determined to keep doing.

I wish I had a better response, but it's good to know I'm not alone! :)

Liza said...

I say thank you to Tricia at Tailspinning on my blog.

Jade said...

I feel your pain. I hate SRH at the moment. I'm just leaving the ms alone. In fact I haven't looked at it in about 2 weeks. I'm just writing and biding my time.

I hope you snap out of it soon.

Bethany Mattingly said...

*Sigh* everything is white and grey here. What a wonderful post to lift my spirits :)

Laura Canon said...

I seem to oscillate between everything feeling unified and working well and everything being fragmented. I hate the fragmented times but I do feel that they give me a different perspective...one that I need as well. Hope that helps. Nothing to do but forge ahead.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Sarah: I hear you. One foot in front of the other and grateful not to be alone.

Thanks Liza!

Jade: It's weird about the love/hate thing with manuscripts. Sometimes I spend an entire day living it and some days I can't look at it at all.

Bethany: I'm best pleased to bring the sunshine.

Laura: Indeed. It's either forge ahead or give up and I don't think I could quit. Ever.

Jemi Fraser said...

Poppies!! We had 6 inches of pretty, fluffy snow fall today. Beautiful, but.... Poppies!!

I don't get into a funk too often, but my kids at school can usually do or say something to pop me right out of it :)

Susan J. Berger said...

Some times I tell myself, "OK you have an official day off from doing anything productive. and I will love me anyway." Sometimes I go to the library and or books store and get me a new present. Right now I am blogging great first lines at my critique group blog;
http://thepenandinkblog.blogspot.com/

kathrynjankowski said...

I've found it helpful to look at older work and see how I've grown as a writer. Or I'll stop and sketch characters or settings just to be doing something story-related that isn't writing.

There's always chocolate.
;-)

Jemi Fraser said...

Oops - me again - forgot to tell you I have an award for you over at my blog :)

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

Don't make me come over there and dunk your head in the water! We both have to finish our mermaid manuscripts. Save me a chocolate croissant! :)

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Jemi: I think that's fantastic that the kids can erase your funk.
I'm heading on over. :)

Susan: "I will love me anyway." Awww, I like that!

Kathryn: You know, I think I'm going to sketch characters. Great idea.

Karen: Ha! Maybe I should dunk my own head--that might clear it!

rilla jaggia said...

Funny thing, Pat, or not so funny as the case is, I've been fighting the selfsame funk all day. I'm afraid when you threw those stones out of your hem, you slugged them straight at me :( See, that's how I get out of the blues...I blame someone else! But the poppies, they'll make my day anytime. And the snow on the mountains, and friends. Thanks!

Char said...

i love poppies and their strength despite their delicate appearance. i hope they lend you some of their strength too.

Mary Campbell said...

I'm feeling the funk or blahs as I like to call them. Those poppies are beautiful.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Rilla: Ha! No, they just clunk down around my feet, but I'm kicking them aside. Hope you banished yours, too.

Char: It is amazing how tiny little flowers stand up to winds and rain. They do have resilence, for sure.

Mary: We shall have to do the banish-the-blahs dance. Perhaps through a poppy field. :D

Bish Denham said...

Oh, I'm familiar with this mood...it's been trying to crowd me out at the computer, and in my journal for a couple of weeks now. But just yesterday and this morning I saw a clint of light breaking through the gloom. And your post is like a folcrum point on which I can place a lever to make the crack wider. Thanks.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Wow, Bish, thank you. It's nice to know I'm not alone and that something I posted is helpful.

laurel said...

When I have the blahs, it's often research that helps me. Following rabbit trails through the worderful world of Wikipedia can reignite my curiosity, and thus my passion for some aspect of the story. Until my head is in a better place, I won't make good decisions about my own work.

MG Higgins said...

Ah, the synchronicity of the blogosphere. I posted about blooming flowers before reading yours. The writing doldrums have set in for me so often and for me the solution is time. I set the bugger ms aside for as long as it takes for me to not see a pile of excrement, when I can see the jewels that I believed were there in the first place, and I start at it again. For me, it can take at least a month. Sometimes more, depending on how close I am to the manuscript. Hang in there. It's all part of the process.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Laurel: Oooooo, thanks for that idea. Following research rabbit holes is perfect.

Mel: It is so helpful to hear people say it's part of the process and we all experience it. Thanks, and I'm glad we are both enjoying the fleurs. :)

PJ Hoover said...

I love your pics!

And LOL, did you see my blog today? That's what I did to snap out of it.

I love the image of you kicking off lead boots.

Sarah Laurence said...

Wow! Poppies in February - we just have sub freezing temps and ice. Thanks for sharing. You definitely have the solution to the blues. When I’m feeling low, I get together with a friend. Sometimes it helps to have a break from imaginary characters.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

PJ: I love your motivator! I've never used the web cam on my laptop. Time to remedy that.

Sarah: I just saw some photos online of ice covered strawberries (fields in Florida) that were extraordinary-red berries covered in glass-like ice.
Good idea to get together with a friend. Thanks.

Natalie said...

I love poppies. I think a good slap from Cheer might do the trick too. :)

I usually take a few days off, which might be the worst thing to do, and read and clean my house until I feel like going back. Then I reread some of the manuscript and realize it's not as bad as I thought it was.

Hope you feel better soon.

Robyn Campbell said...

I am sorry I didn't get by to diagnose this funk earlier. =_

The poppies should bring you out. If they don't, find a horse to ride. =)

And a chocolate croissant is always good too. Hey, eat one while riding a horse down at the beach. *air fist pump*

I usually look at my Christopher Pat. His face always brings me out of the funk. And the kids faces. My hubby. The farm.

You will see the brilliance in your MS. It is there. You see it now? =)

Shelli said...

you won on my blog today :) Hope it cheers you up.

Julie Dao said...

It's hard not to be in a funk when the weather is gray and gloomy and cold. I love flowers - that poppy is like a little burst of sunlight. Buying myself a bunch at the grocery store, even if it's just carnations, has always brightened my mood. Thanks for the pictures and the reminder!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

WOW. I just have to say you guys are the greatest. So many super ideas being offered.


Natalie: My house could use a good clean. Here I go! :)

Dr. Robyn: It shall be a virtual horse ride on the beach. I'm tearing up the sand, oh, yeah.
I like to visualize you happy on the farm with your family. :)

Shelli: *squeeee* Oh, yeah, that is a definite mood lifter. I'll be over a little later (real time interview I'm off to, squeeing as I go)

Julie: I used to buy flowers at the market all the time. And it did raise my spirits to see them in the house. I should treat myself again.