It doesn’t, not really, but it did make me think some more about how what I’m feeling at any given moment often has a lot to do with what I’m reading or writing or listening to at the time.
I really do believe it matters. The thought struck me as I was reading a particularly dismal part of Cormac McCarthy‘s brilliant Border Trilogy last year. It was book two, The Crossing, and the main character was having a particularly bad time in Mexico for a period of, oh, around 300 pages. Maybe I was having a particularly bad time of my own around then as well, but I found myself dragged down into a funk I couldn’t shake, which I consider testament to how good the writing is (or how fragile my mental state, or both). When Billy Parham finally rode back across the border, my cloud lifted.
This has happened to me countless times. I can also become elated when things are going well for characters I care about in fiction, though that seems to happen less often, probably just because I like books and movies that are sad. (Why that is might make another good blog post, but I’ll save it for another day.)
At the moment, I’m not reading anything—which is rare and feels strange in its own way—but I’ve been working on writing a short story that’s affecting my mood. It’s loosely based on a particularly hard, confusing, sad time in my life. Focusing on those events has me remembering how it felt and, inevitably, feeling some of it all over again.
Don’t worry, it’s not a big deal. I know it’s in the past, years ago, and I’m far beyond it all. Everything worked out fine in the end, as it always does. It’s kind of that same feeling I get from reading tough stuff, and I consider it—putting myself back in the situation and remembering how it felt—part of my research, a necessary step to writing something that will resonate and feel genuine to my readers. (You can be the judge. As I did recently with another such story, I’ll post it on here soon.)
So, I guess that’s why I feel a little blue today. Elton has nothing to do with it.