Matt W Cook

writer.former fundamentalist.christianly fellow

Tag: emotions

Writing and Emotions

     Here’s how a night of writing typically goes:

  • 1:00-1:10 – I sit down with computer, notebook, tea and water. I turn on some ambient Zen music. High expectations and energy. I’m going to rock my own face off tonight!
  • 1:10-1:40 – I get distracted by Facebook, Twitter and blogging. If I’m lucky this produces a new blog post, a couple Tweets and a Facebook share. If I’m less lucky this produces nothing.
  • 1:40-3:00 – I turn off all my distractions and look at what needs doing. Generally this produces a sickening angst. I see some plot holes and character inconsistencies. I realize that I have made a horrible mistake and I never should have started writing in the first place. I should have been an actor. Or an accountant. Or anything at all because I suck at this and it’s going nowhere and I’m wasting my time and it’s all pointless and I’m an idiot and OH GOD NOOOO!
  • 3:00-3:30 – Play Doom II
  • 3:30 – Guilt forces back to the stupid book.
  • 3:31-6:00 – I work. It’s hard. It’s frustrating. But, as I work, the story takes hold of itself. I write. Tap, tap, tap go my fingers. My characters breathe and live and act. I’ve forgotten that I’m writing. I am simply being. I am doing what I do. And, suddenly, I notice that it’s nearly 6am. I look at my wordcount and I gasp. I read it over and I gasp again. I did well. Not perfect. Needs work. But the scenes are true. The characters are real. Dear God, I’m a writer.
  • 6:01 – Happy dance.

     Okay, maybe that’s not a typical day of writing. I don’t really have typical days. But the wild roller coaster of feelings is real. In one night I’ll both despise and adore my work. I’ll both despise and adore myself. But most nights end on a higher note than they began. Which leads me to believe the higher emotions are the more authentic. Which, further, leads me to believe I’m on the right track.

     How about you? What strange things does your creative outlet do to your heart?

From Dark to Grey

     It was a dark and stormy, bright sunny day. Or week. Or something like that. Anyway, it was rough. Ruth was leaving earlier than we had planned. I wasn’t sleeping well. Things were piling on. So I slowly walking into a dark place. Ever been there? Not fun.
     Then she left. Got darker. Hadn’t written a thing in days. Maybe a week, even.
     But it’s getting brighter today.
     I took the bus down to Danforth. Walked for hours, carrying my leather case with my notebook and computer. Wonderful day for walking. Too cool to stand still. Once I got into a good rhythm my body warmed itself up. I passed a church that was having a hamburger cookout. They invited me in. It was nice. I declined, mostly because I didn’t want to create an awkward situation because they had nothing a vegetarian could eat. But I hugged the guy and thanked him for his invitation. It made him smile. That made me smile.
     I kept going. Crossed the road. Started walking the other way. Came across a vegetarian restaurant I hadn’t seen before called Teatree Cafe. Had a grilled brie sandwich with honey baked apples on oatmeal bread and a potato oatmeal soup. Children played and laughed behind me, talking about their Sunday School class. It was good. My body thanked me for the sandwich. I started feeling strong and I smiled again.
     I left and kept walking. Found my way to the Tsaa Tea Shop. I forget what kind of tea I ordered. Something that had to do with eyebrows (seriously). I sat in my place and opened my computer. Found the section I was supposed to be working on. Drank a cup of tea while staring at it.
     My throat was wet and my insides were comfortable. But my mind and heart still wanted to throw the computer away and join a circus. I poured myself another cup of tea.
     I was feeling more positive. The other customers started to fade and I reached down to my characters to see if they were still alive. They were, it turned out. I poured myself another cup of tea.
     I dared to put my fingers to the keyboard. They moved. Slowly at first. Awkwardly. With horrid spelling. But that wasn’t a problem. I’m a worse speller than my mother-in-law. And she doesn’t even speak English. I poured myself another cup of tea.
     I was rolling, suddenly. It started to work. It started to make sense. It was fun and real again. I poured myself another cup of tea.
     I stopped typing. Looked at the wordcount. Smiled to myself and closed the computer. I finished the tea and stared out into the street.
     I left with a grin. I’m all alone, still. But not really. I have love in my life. The love of an orchestra. And a guy was giving out free samples of Stella Artois on the way back. And I know how to make killer tea.
     On the bus going home, I read this line from Lotung, the Tang poet, concerning drinking tea:

The first cup moistens my lips and throat,
The second cup breaks my loneliness,
The third cup searches my barren entrail
but to find therein some five thousand
volumes of odd ideographs.
The fourth cup raises a slight perspiration,—
All the wrong of life passes away through my
At the fifth cup I am purified;
The sixth cup calls me to the realms of
The seventh cup—ah, but I
could take no more! I only feel
the breath of cool wind that rises
in my sleeves.
Where is Horaisan?
Let me ride on this sweet breeze
And waft away thither.

     All in all, it’s been a good day.