Better When Bitter
I went through a miserable breakup my junior year of college. I was finally over the worst of the ennui when I dragged myself home for winter break. I was sitting in the kitchen, helpng prepare meals, and cracking bleak joke after bleak joke. And at some point I said something - I wish I could remember what - that made my mother's sympathetic expression dissolve into chuckles, inspiring her to remark:
"God, you're funny when you're sad."
She was right. She remains right. Being down tends to bring out the darker, more acerbic humor that cheerful Beth generally feels the need to shove aside. After all, when I'm happy and chipper, why bring myself or anyone else down with my wry dystopian wit?
And to this day, when I'm sad or mad - not traumatized-level sad or mad, just, say, realizing-it's-for-the-best-but-still-trying-to-piece-my-heart-together-sad (2001-2002) or furious-with-the-American-healthcare-system-mad (this month and, you know, most of the time), I do some of my best work. Not necessarily in terms of quality, but certainly in terms of quantity.
And my material definitely skews darker than usual.
I had a very sad end of 2018/beginning of 2019, which included, among other things, the death of both of my dogs and the world being one big flaming dumpster fire. So yes: I've been in a bit of a pervasive low-level funk. I haven't wanted to go out much, but I sure have wanted to make snarky commentary. And I sure have been making time to write.
So in the past two months, I have:
- Finished a first draft of an adaptation of one of my plays into a novel
- Finished a second draft of a play about the abuse of power/harrassment/#metoo
- Finished a first draft of a play about grief and Russian interference in the 2016 election
- Fully outlined and am about halfway done drafting (VERY rough draft) a story about a young teenager encountering the issue of domestic abuse
- Joined a writers group
- Started this freakin' blog thing
All while working full-time, parenting, hosting guests, getting tons of rejections, and, yes, being kind of sad. Not dangerously sad. But certainly struggling enough to have plenty of negative energy to break down and convert into creative energy. It's been productive.
I might be "better when bitter" when it comes to snide witticisms and cranking out creative projects. However, in order to keep going past the initial act of creation and work toward, say, publication... I need inspiration. Hope. Joy. Otherwise I'll just collapse. It's not always as easy to find the hopeful sentiment as it is to find the next snappy, jaded quip.
So I'm getting up in the morning and doing yoga. Enjoying extra snuggle time with the kiddo. Being honest here about some of the struggles (yes, yes, more to come). I'm cooking, connecting with friends, committing to an upward trajectory. I'm optimistic that this is sustainable, and makes everything more doable long-term.
That next bitter breakthrough is always just around the corner.