Killer Year–The Class of 2007

Writing Mood
March 2, 2007, 6:07 pm
Filed under: Dave White

So, I’ve been really happy lately.  I have a good job, a book coming out, and all sorts of other good things happening.  I’ve been literally walking around with a goofy smile on my face for the last few months.  Like big and dorky and goofy.

Is this a good thing for my writing?

I mean, have you read my Jackson Donne stories?  Or any of my stories for that matter?  They aren’t happy or upbeat or chipper.  They’re pretty dark and depressing.  Jackson Donne rarely–if ever–gets a happy ending.  And my best stories–“Closure”/”My Father’s Gun”–were written in a haze of anger and sadness.  WHEN ONE MAN DIES was written during a year where my love life basically went to hell.

And now… things are good.  Too good.

Does that mean my next book is going to suffer?  Am I going to be able to channel the hate and anger needed to put Jackson Donne into a bad place or two?

The second book should be okay.  I’m close enough to the end of it where I should be able to channel bad things.  But the next book–assuming there is one–what happens if I remain happy?

It might just be JACKSON DONNE AND THE SEARCH FOR THE HAPPY RAINBOW… starring unicorns.

What about you guys?  Do you have to be in a weird mood to write?


10 Comments so far
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Interesting post, Dave. I’m guessing you have that darkness within you, no matter what your dominant mood in your everyday life.

People often ask me why I don’t write comedy (because I’m usually easygoing and pretty funny in company), to which my response is, if I write comedy you’ll get the part of me that currently goes into the books – not a pleasant thought for most people.

And if I don’t write, no matter how many good things are happening in my life, I’ll find my moods becoming blacker and blacker, so maybe there’s some truth in it.

But I’m glad things are going well for you and have little doubt that you’ll still find your way back to that place when you need to – just remember to leave it at your desk.

Comment by Kevin Wignall

And if channeling your dark mood doesn’t work, you can hire someone to randomly do bad things to you…break into your house, beat you up when you come out of the bar, post those unfortunate pictures on the internet you thought had been burned and forgotten…just an idea.

Comment by Brett Battles

You make it sound as if whatever you’re feeling in the moment can’t help but bleed into your writing. That may be true at the earliest stages of brainstorming, but as you polish your writing, it becomes more planned, and you can avoid the gushing that may occur when you speak off-the-cuff, in the heat of a moment.

I don’t have to be in a mood to write unless you count my recalling when I felt a certain way, putting myself back in that mood, and then writing. In general, I find I can’t write about emotional situations unless I’ve already moved past those situations and can reflect on them objectively.

Comment by Gerald So

Don’t worry. Life is a gigantic, steaming excrement sandwich and you’ll be taking another bite soon enough. Guaranteed.

Comment by Gary Carson

Gary is so right. I’ve been eating that sandwich all week. I’d kinda fallen into the magical delusion that, despite all the shit in the world, maybe things were going okay for me personally. Ha ha. Foolish boy.

But here’s the problem. I haven’t written a word. Whether it seeps into my writing whenever I get back to it, I dunno. Personally, I’d rather be more content and fretting about THAT seeping into my writing.

Comment by Bill Cameron

Hey Gerald, good comment. However, I’m not sure I agree. When I wrote a story called “Righteous Son” (upcoming in 2008), the first draft had shades of the emotions I was feeling. I kind of knew something was going to happen in my life, but I wasn’t sure how I was going to react to it. The situation happened in my life just as I was about to go into revisions. It really shaped the revision and made the emotions in the story a lot stronger.

Comment by Dave White

I have to admit, emotions certainly play a part. Having a ton of turmoil and drama makes it very difficult for me to write well. I’ll futz and try and not make any progress that’s worth spit, then throw up my hands and go commiserate with a friend.

Thankfully these moments are few and far between, but they do derail the train for me. Happy, content, inspired, all those states still allow me to dig deep in the dark side.

Of course, we should probably define what’s true turmoil and what’s simply drama. For my flow, I think drama is a worse interruption that actual real situational turmoil.

Comment by JT Ellison

And BTW, it’s good that you’re happy.

Comment by JT Ellison

I see what you’re saying, Dave. My point was not that revision eliminates emotion, but that as you revise, you’re able to focus emotion in a way that serves the story.

Comment by Gerald So

The best take on this came from Ken Bruen. Anyone who’s met him knows what a great guy he is to be around. At the same time, the man’s got a lot to be angry about. He says he just turns the rage on at 7 AM when he writes and shuts it off when he’s done. It’s not so much the mood he’s in on a given day but that he can go back to that place when he needs to draw on it.

Then again, “And on the Seventh Day” was a fit of rage set off by a street corner preacher who insulted a friend of mine. Mood helps, but the memory of the mood is more important.

Comment by Jim Winter

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