In For Writers, Overcome Obstacles, Random

Lately, I’ve been feeling depressed, hopeless and above all, cold. While these feelings have been known to creep up on me every now and then, they typically hold me hostage for a few hours before they skulk back to wherever they came from and leave me be (except for the cold, he’s a regular around here).

But this time they haven’t left. They’ve been loitering up there in my creative conscious, smoking cigarettes and drinking pints of Guiness until they cry and sing songs about Kevin Barry and dying for Ireland, and I can’t, for the life of me, figure out why. Nothing is wrong, nothing has changed; life continues to move forward as it always does.

And then yesterday I happened upon a blog post about writing and emotional health. The author, Shannon McKelden (a.k.a. The Happy Writer) talks about how, whether we realize it or not, we are deeply affected the by the things we read, watch and consume on a daily basis. For her, watching too many television dramas was making her life feel overly dramatic. This reminded me of a friend who recently told me that she stopped watching the Housewives reality series because she found herself constantly feeling angry for no reason. I’ve experienced this myself. I limit how much news I watch because it tends to stir up fear and anxiety.

And then it hit me. In addition to living in freezing cold Pennsylvania where my nose is constantly running and a clump of snow always manages to find its way into my shoe, I’ve been reading Angela’s Ashes about Frank McCourt’s hopeless, Depression-era childhood in bitter cold Ireland with a father who smokes cigarettes and squanders all their welfare money at the pub, drinking pints of Guiness until he cries and sings songs about Kevin Barry and dying for Ireland.

Bingo.

So now that I’ve figured out what’s making me miserable, I have to decide what to do about it. Should I put down a well-written, Pulitzer Prize winning memoir half-way through or do I suck it up, observe McCourt’s storytelling style and pray that one day I’ll be one thousandth the writer he is? Putting it down feels sacrilege, but continuing on means more cold, dark days ahead. And more Kevin Barry songs.

What should I do? Put it down or suck it up?

Photo credit: COGS News

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  • HaleyWhitehall
    Reply

    Just because it is a Pulitzer Prize winning memoir doesn’t mean you are required to read it. I would stop if it was making me miserable, but that’s just me.

    • Erika Liodice
      Reply

      Haley,
      I like the way you think!

      Thanks for letting me off the hook!
      Erika

  • Christy Fabiano
    Reply

    I would finish the book…as it is a great one…but I consistently have a light hearted, laugh out loud book on my nightstand to allow for a little literary reprieve when needed. I recommend anything by the Mitfords…especially Nancy.

    • Erika Liodice
      Reply

      Thanks, Christy! I’m glad to know that if I do stick it out it’ll be worth it in the end 🙂

      Never heard of the Mitfords. Will check them out. Thanks for the rec!

      Erika

  • Anonymous
    Reply

    I know what you mean. I’m reading The Brothers Karamazov and it’s making me overanalyze everything. I think it’s fine to put a book down and maybe pick it up later at a better time when it’s not so cold.

    • Erika Liodice
      Reply

      Good point. Maybe I’ll wait until warmer weather…

  • Suzanne
    Reply

    I think the combination of winter blues and the dark subjects of the memoir are wearing on you…so put it down until summer. Or keep an inspirational book on your nightstand to read as an antidote before bedtime.

    • Erika Liodice
      Reply

      You’re right, Suzanne. These brutal northeast winters just keeping getting more difficult to endure, so maybe this isn’t the best time to be reading such a dark, cold book.

      Any recs for an inspirational book for my nightstand?

      Erika

  • Wanderlust
    Reply

    This year I have decided to read only the books that make me happy…Pulitzer Prize winner or not. Although having said that, one can always glean something from the real ‘downers’ – as in the way Frank McCourt can bring you to tears with his description of the abject poverty and in the same breath make you laugh out loud. So maybe as long as you can take something positive from it, keep reading.

    • Erika Liodice
      Reply

      Good point, Wanderlust. I actually finished Angela’s Ashes the other day and you were right, I gleaned SO MUCH.

      Thanks for the encouragement!
      Erika

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