Joy is hard to find in autumnal despair . . .

I’ve been feeling a bit like our bedraggled trees, the hornbeam that’s losing all its yellow leaves now, and the red stemmed dogwood in a similar situation as the stiff wind does its leaf-taking. News comes in from a lovely blog I’ve begun to follow, Your World in Your Hands, of another blogger whose homily for Monday (Begin-Again) she re-blogged to help cheer us up. I know I should be cheered, I know the leaves are still clinging on (to extend the metaphor) to the bitter end and the arrival of winter. I know this, on an intellectual level, I do. I know that Monday can be the beginning of a cheerful week.

On a feeling level, I’ve been bedraggled, tossed about with the wind and despairing. I contemplated ignoring any attempt at joy today, and spiralling into an existential gloom. But I finished finessing my short story yesterday, the longest short story I’ve ever attempted. My fiction veers between 1500 and 105000 words, after all. Nothing really in-between until this competition came up. But 3500 words feels about right for this piece. And yes, I’m delighted to have that now. Of course I am.

Actually, just writing these things seems to banish the autumnal tristesse for a while. Although I’m waiting for a very important critique on my new short story, I could, I could submit to the competition. GlobeSoup.net has an intriguing approach to submissions that I’ve not seen anywhere else. If, as so often happens, a writer should discover some glaring issue with their manuscript after submitting, they can re-submit a revision, with the same ticket, and only the latest submission will go forward to the judging panel. Just like that, the agency taking care of the submissions makes it all so easy. So I could send my piece off, and if my last critique comes in with salient issues that I could fix, why then I could still repair the damage. Maybe I should do that, get things off my chest as it were.

But I linger, worry, fret and then despair encroaches. This is not my usual self, but it is still a part of me, this feeling. I guess I’m looking for some external approbation, some received delight, a ray of unexpected sunshine. What doesn’t come in, I shall have to create for myself, out of thin air perhaps, but by putting my head down and working.

I’m off: I’m submitting, and then I’m going to do my regular Monday writing chore, a kind of recent social history of the adventures of belonging, of contributing to a community. I shall endeavour to cast that despair into the wind, and hope to emerge into a quiet, tranquil space.

5 responses to “Joy is hard to find in autumnal despair . . .”

  1. Hi Larry, thanks for the Pingback- it gave me a nice boost for MY Monday. Yup… cheerfulness is good, but even better (I think) is the Beginners Mind that I referred to, which is basically about having no expectations; a kind of Going with the Flow, where each day is new and unknown, and anything is possible. Easier said than done, I know! Wishing you a good week 🙂

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    1. Thanks Amanda, I can appreciate that sense of a daily new beginning, but how hard it is to give up the continuing encroachment of the previous day, eh?! For example, I could create a poem out of nothing, with no previous baggage to carry over. I’m reminded of an earlier exercise that I did on sadness in autumn, because it was based around the remaining leaves of the very same red stemmed dogwood bush as I’ve snapped this morning. Maybe I should leave that in the past and try something else! Actually, I’m curled up beside our fire, listening to Linda Ronstadt’s Canciones di me Padre, and reading someone else’s work-in-progress, which is also work that I must do, and it is a good start to the new week too. So I’m getting there on this new day! Thanks for commenting, and btw, I’ve corrected my misnomer on the name of your blog, apologies!

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      1. I think there is always beauty and value in reflection, but also a time to ‘leave that in the past and try something else’, as you said. I know what works for me … 🙂

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  2. Larry, I hope after you read my thoughts from Today’s Joy you will not be thinking, “Henry is stranger than I had remembered.” Bc Today’s Joy caused me to recall one technique of psychotherapy. It’s called cognitive-behavioral-emotive therapy. Behavior will eventually change feelings & thoughts. I quote your last paragraph, which I found to be most pertinent. “What doesn’t come in, I shall have to create for myself, out of thin air perhaps, but by putting my head down and working.”  The instruction from behavioral therapy extrapolated from that quote could be stated, “Do one thing. Start. Begin. Do one thing.” If a person can begin there is a very good chance that the rest will follow. Thanks Larry for reminding me of that principle.

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    1. Thanks Henry, not at all strange! I like that thought: start, do. Just start and with any luck the rest will come along. That’s what I found as I worked my way through my other social blog entry later this morning, and I even managed to remember a funny karaoke turn I’d done back in 2006, listening to Val Doonican’s Walk Tall on YouTube to make me smile. I shall keep trundling on, but it’s good to get encouragement along the way, for sure!

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