Sometimes you work against the world’s flow. Example – this weekend, big holiday weekend, cookouts and beer. The last hurrah of summer. Not for me.
Well, for one thing, it’s nowhere near the end of summer here. It was 90s all weekend and it will continue to be hot in Pasadena for most of September. And I absolutely despise the heat. Almost always, from about 3-6pm, when the heat is worst (it lingers in the apartment), I sink into the worst kind of depression – headache, stomach ache, complete purposeless. I honestly have moments of longing for death or some kind of unconsciousness during this time of day. I lose track of myself, I lose the ability to appreciate beauty or food or art. In other words – there is no reason to live.
Yes, I’m dramatic about my moods. And I’m beginning to realize that the moods are here to stay. I don’t want to play the artist card, but dammit, I will. Because this is how I work. Morning: Eyes open. Immediate depression in thinking about everything I have to do. Followed by guilt that I should wake up grateful to be alive. Forced positive thoughts while making coffee. Coffee kicks in. Suddenly everything is beautiful, sunshine, god I love sunshine, the light falling just so, everything I read in my books and see on the internet is an inspiration. There’s somuchtodo!!! Later, coffee wears off. I have to work. Whatever I have to do, I have to do it and I can hardly bear to look at it. Drudgery. Then lunch – a break, a little light in the middle of the day. Chocolate always to finish it off. Little buzz. I can do this. Then sleepy time after lunch. God, I hate my life. 3pm hits and the sun is at its hottest. What is there to live for? Nothing. Nothing at all. Art is nothing. There is no purpose. We work for food and shelter and then we die. Art is no comfort.
Jesus. Definitely didn’t need to spell all that out.
So you can see why mood management is so necessary. Especially for a holiday weekend where everyone else is out having a jolly time with family and friends and I’m staring at a laptop for hours in a very dark apartment, organizing film clips, converting them, loading them into Final Cut, cringing, trying to cut scenes together and figure out what we’re missing (answer is: a lot) and looking at all the idiots on Facebook for distraction.
From what I can tell, an awful lot of creativity is mood management. Catching the positive wave and doing as much as you can while you’re on it. And then gently turning the daily resistance into a better, more inspired mood. And taking the really really depressed moments with a grain of salt and getting out and going to the movies or reading a book at a cafe. You can’t get any work done when you’re distracted and headache-y and hopeless. You have to refill somehow.
Anyway, one thing I’ve been finding helpful lately is reading a little Anais Nin from time to time. And, first, I’ll confess, I haven’t read much of her stuff. Just one of her diary compilations, Fire. I’ve honestly been reading this book for probably something like ten years on and off. Just a couple pages at a time, really. But it helps with the artist temperament, it really does, to read the point of view of someone who is so unapologetic about her passions and her frustrations. I love her freedom, her frivolity, and how she seems always primarily concerned with the work and how she feels.
I’ll leave you with a few underlined bits from my book:
“Today I have seriously considered becoming a high-class cocotte. I want money, perfume, luxury, traveling, liberty. I don’t want to be a shut in at the Villa Seurat cooking for imbeciles like Fred, and Henry’s timorous and bourgeois, weak, whiny friends. And the waste. I can’t lead such a wasted life. I need to create constantly or enjoy myself intensely.”
“Then it seems as if we are making dinner again, and I am slicing eggplant and striving, thoughtfully, for succulence. And we fall into a deep peace, lying on the couch, talking about opium – the opium of sleep and the opium of action. Henry had said, “When I am sad I go to sleep.” And suddenly I understood that when I was sad I had to act.”
“I know that I go through life like a drunkard. I’m drunk on illusion. But no matter how drunk I am, there are things I can’t help seeing, ferociously real things. I close my eyes, and I reel, I reel, I reel. I believe, I live in a fever and turmoil, I rise into ecstasy, but all the time there is the face of reality staring at me with ugly eyes. I know that if I open my eyes I will be intolerably hurt by the ugliness.”
“Importance in modern books of moments de bonheur simple. Glorified because as rare to us, the neurotics, as ecstasy and tragedy are to others. Harriet Hume eating from a bag of cherries, Colette’s cup of chocolate, my cup of coffee at the Roger Williams’.”