Friday, March 21, 2008

The Winter Threshold, 2008

Each winter there comes a time when I can no longer handle it; I get edgy, hateful, and obnoxious to be around. I look at weather reports and I want to scream. When I open the curtains I curse the fickle whims of nature, then close the curtains again and collapse into a furnace-dried, hot-headed, untidy heap.

This year it happened on March 18th, the day when I became so fed up with the weather (and the prospect of working with RoboHelp) that I couldn't even drag myself out of bed to go to work. Yessir, the winter blues have got me bad.

I know that I documented this threshold last year as well, and I'm amazed to learn that it happened EARLIER in 2007...I officially got sick of winter on March 8th then, which is weird because last winter was comparatively mild.

But I can explain. In psych class we learned about "Approach/Avoidance Syndrome," which explains why certain tasks become most intolerable just before we're finished them: we don't mind suffering through something as long as there is no end in sight, but once we think that the end is near -- the end of a prison term, the end of a chapter we're studying, the end of a work day -- we can perfectly imagine what it will be like when the task is over...and we can't stand the task any longer. Our anticipation begins to torture us.

This year my winter edginess started immediately after the beautiful thaw we had last week; snow was melting, sun was warm, birds were singing. Now that the snow is falling again and the birds have shut the hell up, the continuance of winter is UNBEARABLE.

2 comments:

The Vicar of VHS said...

Only marginally related, but a writing prof I had at LSU once told her class that she felt from a writer's point of view that every novel, as it approached its ending, pretty much devolved to the same plot:

I HAVE GOT TO FINISH THIS NOVEL.

She said skillful editing and rewriting can disguise this, but that in her heart of hearts she believed there was a point where every writer got sick of his or her own work and just wanted to push through and be done. Since then I've looked for this phenomenon in my reading, and while the best authors edit it out, it's definitely there in the lesser books or those more "rushed" by a publisher.

But then, of course, all generalizations are inaccurate.

Muffy St. Bernard said...

I'll try not to think of novels that way -- otherwise it'll add just ANOTHER layer I need to pay attention to -- but I'm sure you're right.

In one of his books Marc Leyner (in tongue-in-cheek first person narrative) said he was doing an experiment: to see how his characters developed when he wrote with a full bladder.

He said that when his bladder was empty, his characters often had tranquil upbringings and graduated from two PHD programs before even reaching adulthood. But when he really had to go to the bathroom, his characters had terrible upbringings and skipped school entirely, and they tended to die young.