Friday, January 12, 2007

Mood in Writing

I feel a little sad today. On the long commute across the lake I started thinking about my father, and of a poem I wrote for him once long after he was dead and I was grown. At the same time they played a couple of sad songs on the radio back to back. Then I started thinking of my own son. He's 19 now and living on his own, and I sure miss seeing him as much as I used to.

That sequence and combination of events sent my mood into a mini-crash. And almost immediately I began to think of how to express my emotions in poetry. That got me to wondering about how important mood is in writing, not the mood of the "piece" you're working on, but your personal mood. I think sometimes it's too important to me, meaning that I don't necessarily write fiction these days unless my mood is right. That's a burgeoning habit that I have to break.

Do you think that when people talk about the "muse" they might really mean "mood?" They can't write unless the muse is with them, but maybe the muse isn't with them because they aren't in the right mood. I know that for myself, I can force, or at least invoke, a mood that fits the piece I'm working on, but it isn't always easy. And sometimes it seems to get harder as I get older.

Damn, maybe I should just write some poetry now and shut up.


Danny Tagalog said...

Is muse 'mood' - hmm, that's an interesting one. Not being a committed writer, I would say 'yes'. And I suppose you can manipulate your mood for the purposes of the paper...

cs harris said...

Interesting concept, Charles. I know sometimes I'll write a scene, almost sketching it in, because I'm under pressure to keep producing everyday even thought it doesn't "feel" right. Then I find I have to go back later and bring it to life--something I simply wasn't in the right mood before to do. And it's certainly true that unhappiness in a writer's life can lead them to write darker pieces. So you may well be onto something.

Sidney said...

I tend to think of the muse as enthusiasm, which I think is tied to mood. If the mood is wrong the enthusiasm is hard to muster.

I've let mood keep me from writing too many times, though.

I saw an interview with Tennesee Williams once and he said: "Hapiness is an occasional occasion. We shouldn't live just to be happy."

And I think that can be applied to writing too though I'm not sure exactl how to paraphrase it.

Stewart Sternberg (half of L.P. Styles) said...

Go read the post on Jon Zech's is's a poem, by the way.

That being said: I hate poetry.I'll have to do a posting on my blog about that. Don't get me wrong, I love the classic poetry...the stuff we all know and love. But most people who write poetry haven't a clue as to what they are doing. I steer clear of it altogether.

But as to mood. I think I write not when in a mood, but sometimes to leave a mood behind. When I write, I immerse myself. I lose myself. I become someone else. The mood doesn't matter. I detach from the world around me and plunge into prose, getting into a character's head.

Sometimes my mood might be affected by what I am writing, but the other way around, in my opinion.

JR's Thumbprints said...

I'm not so sure "muse" and "mood" are interchangeable. An idea may strike me, something I need to get down on paper, and at the same time, my mood may be in conflict with my storyline. Sometimes I go through the motions of trying to get the scene right, but in actuality I tip-toe around it, toy with, knowing it's all wrong, and somehow find my way to where I need to be.

Clifford said...

For me, mood is important. If I'm in the wrong frame of mind, the muse can be screaming and shouting and jumping about, but I just don't hear it. Are they one and the same? In my case, they might as well be.

Charles Gramlich said...

Stewart, I was talking to poetry last night and it said it felt the same way about you. Said it liked the classic Stewart but the new guy just didn't do anything for it. I'm not agreeing, mind you, just relaying a message.

I didn't care much for poetry until sometime in early college when I found Dylan Thomas and that changed my thinking. I've been trying to write as well as Thomas ever since and have never come close. But still it seems a worthy goal.

Thanks all for posting.

Stewart Sternberg (half of L.P. Styles) said...

god..I just wish I knew what classic Stewart was.