SAD Inspires (Sort of)

Everyone in my immediate family has a middle name starting with A: Anne, Ariel, Alfonso (yep, you read that right).

Everyone, that is, except me. That was to save me from initials that spell out SAD.

I appreciate my parents’ concern. Unfortunately, the abbreviation avoidance could not actually save me from suffering from the real SAD. Seasonal Affective Disorder. (And yes, it is real!)

Since we set clocks back an hour – and if someone can explain why we do that a week earlier in the EU than the States, I’d be interested – I’ve been pretty aware of SAD’s effects. Doesn’t help that the Paris fall is in full swing, too – cold and gray (the rain’s on the way, too, I’m sure).

Paris in November grey

Of course, this is perfect weather for my current state of being a hermit and working. I know I’m a bit secretive about my writing, but that’s partly because the process is a big mystery to me, too. Talking about writing is not the same as writing. I just need to do it.

Last week I went to Ann Mah’s reading and was inspired to be surrounded by so many writers. I’m friendly with people who already have published books! Wow, I want one of my own.

Of course, the only way that’s going to happen is if I keep my butt in the chair and keep believing that this crazy dream can in fact happen if I work hard enough.

And so, the crappy weather is actually playing its part. I like writing late at night. As it looks like midnight starting at 5 PM, I can be tricked into starting much earlier now.

Thanks, Paris. Cheers, SAD.

What’s your positive spin on SAD? How do you beat the bad weather blues?

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18 Responses to “SAD Inspires (Sort of)”


  1. 1 Sab November 18, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    Hi SAD. But don’t worry, I think we need challenges to be able to write. Sunny days never do it for me. What can you write about a sunny day? That the sun is shining? Wow. THAT’S interesting – gimmie some more of that sun… no thanks. I’d much rather mean and moody stuff, and funnily enough, once I’ve got it out of me through words, I feel absolutely great!
    Take care!
    SAB =
    Some Anonymous Brat
    Sad Antisocial Bastard?
    Seriously Awry Brit?
    Slightly Amusing Blogger?
    (who knows?)

    • 2 paris (im)perfect November 18, 2010 at 6:09 pm

      Hi Sab. I completely agree with you. That’s why I said the gray Paris fall actually is perfect for my writing. Might be hard to believe given how lighthearted I am on the blog (and in real life), but my fiction is often pretty melancholy. Yep, storm clouds over here. :)

      So yes, if there’s one benefit of being SAD, it’s that it helps me write!

  2. 3 Lupinssupins November 18, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    Ah, oui, SAD is all too real! Says someone with family in Iceland! I spent a Christmas there- what little, overcast sun there was, lasted barely 4 hrs. The Icelanders like to keep their outdoor holiday lights up all winter to help w/ their mood, and whoever can afford to travel flees as far south as they can manage, at least once per winter. Paris is also farther north than most geo-challenged Americans realize, so its winter is pretty daylight deprived, comme tu le sais trop bien. Verlaine had it right– Il pleure dans mon coeur comme il pleut sur la ville…
    Or Baudelaire, even more so, in his (infamous Spleen:

    Quand le ciel bas et lourd pèse comme un couvercle
    Sur l’esprit gémissant en proie aux longs ennuis,
    Et que de l’horizon embrassant tout le cercle
    II nous verse un jour noir plus triste que les nuits;…

    And that penetrating, damp cold! You mentioned scarf-tying in one of your self-deprecating posts about your fashion challenges. I was lucky that my first apt. mate had been Paris much longer than I. She warned me that neck scarves were much more than a fashion suggestion; they are a health protection! She said that her first fall & winter, every single time she’d ventured out w/o one, she caught cold. Microbes, shmicrobes, she was right! Never left home sans écharpe, foulard, cache-col ou quoi que ce soit.

    It is also true, what everyone says of the Paris late fall & winter– Every rare day of real sunlight, the entire population seems to rush out in droves & aim for parcs et pique-nigues! It is good that your SAD can be of some professional use to you. For some reason, night is also when I tend to feel my muse, but as for publication, not so much… Too bad I’m no fan of the current, insipid vampire lit fad, b/c I unwittingly keep their unpleasant hours! [am even in sleep therapy, with little succès! Perhaps seeking to avoid being tethered to the CPAP machine that saved my little gray cells. Here comes the sun, just as I fade and you meet l’après-midi. Bonne inspiration!

    • 4 paris (im)perfect November 18, 2010 at 6:13 pm

      Wow, what a comment! Thank you! So much to respond to. Yes, being deprived of daylight is depressing but also a good motivation to write. So I’m happy/sad :)

      Also, I wear a scarf ALL THE TIME. I quickly picked up that the French see it as a health precaution. While at first we may scoff, I now get a sore throat if I leave without my scarf, too! (Even if I don’t tie it well).

      That’s funny about the vampires. Yeah, I haven’t read any of those either, actually. My friend who is also a writer calls me a “literary vampire,” though – maybe I should see what my brethren are up to.

      And you’re right…5 PM here…and night is falling. To work!

  3. 5 Paris Paul P November 18, 2010 at 9:02 pm

    I’ve always preferred the night to the day anyway, so I don’t mind the early nightfall so much. Now Paris Karin, on the other hand…

    • 6 paris (im)perfect November 19, 2010 at 5:02 pm

      Well I’m definitely more of a night person, too. *But* a lack of sunlight really depresses me. But hey, I’m working on a sad part of my book right now, so vive the melancholy! (Getting into character :) )

  4. 7 Buffy November 19, 2010 at 3:49 am

    I know how you feel; it is one thing to want to write and another to just sit down and do it. This may not help your SAD by saying this, but even if it is dreary, you are in a beautiful city. I have heard the clouds make the buildings more pretty, but maybe that is just in pictures. Good luck with your writing!

    Goodnight

    • 8 paris (im)perfect November 19, 2010 at 5:04 pm

      Hey Buffy. No, you’re right. Paris is absolutely gorgeous, even when it’s cloudy and rainy. It’s one of the few places that can say that, I think. In fact, it’s sort of the only reason we put up with it :)

      That said, I do thrive in sunlight. I’m just happier. Eh, but who ever heard of a totally happy writer, right? Thanks for the well wishes. You, too!

  5. 9 Sweet Freak November 19, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    lol. Your SAD posting made me laugh… get it??! But you are not alone – these Paris blues (and greys) are the shits. Last year, they put me inside my first depression and the French have their little ‘dolls’ to help them through the long, dark season. At least you’re looking at them positively and getting something out of the enforced hard labor! You are going to be a star when your book is published, Sion – you better believe it’s going to happen! xo

    • 10 paris (im)perfect November 19, 2010 at 5:07 pm

      *Blush.* Thanks, Amy. You’re too kind (and let’s hope you’re right, too! :) )

      Yeah, we all have our ways of coping with the long, dark season. I’m now using the encouragement from everyone and thinking about what a bright, shining day it will be if I ever finish this novel. So back to it! Heck, it’s gray and cold out there right now – what else do I have to do ? :)

  6. 11 Ann November 20, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    You need one of those special sun lamps, Sion! I’m glad you’re looking at the positive side of the time change (incidentally, the US changes one week later because American parents lobbied to postpone the “fall back” until after Halloween so that its brighter for trick or treating kids — it’s a recent change, 2-3 years old). I’m looking forward to reading what grows out of your mysterious writing process and hard work and to sitting in Shakespeare & Co listening to YOU read.

    • 12 paris (im)perfect November 20, 2010 at 12:36 pm

      Aw, thanks, Ann. Yes, I really *do* need to look into those sun lamps. I’ve been saying this for years. That’s also interesting about the time change – thanks for the info! I’m hoping my mysterious writing process offers up something good (or at least finished!) at some point – I’m halfway there! :)

  7. 13 Paulita November 21, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    Actually, the time change will continue to get later and later. Congress made it so a few years ago. I don’t think it has anything to do with Halloween, but has to do with conserving energy. The time will also spring forward earlier in the year too.
    I’m one of those people who benefits from the time change because I get up before the sun, so I’m glad when it arises earlier to meet me.
    Keep writing and living your dream.

    • 14 paris (im)perfect November 21, 2010 at 7:37 pm

      Hi Paulita. Oh, that makes sense. Would definitely conserve energy if we delay having to turn on the lights because it’s dark. As it is, I now have to switch on lamps at 4:30 in Paris!
      Thank you for the encouragement. And right back at you. I checked out your blog. Good luck with finding an agent (and wow, your *two* finished novels!).

  8. 15 Deux ou trois choses November 21, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    I really want one of those special lamps but they’re out of my prize range sadly. However, I was in Darty the other day to buy a hair straightener and I took advantage by spending five minutes in front of one of the display lamps!

    Buying colourful flowers works wonders! Seriously. Really bright flowers i.e orange, yellow and hot pink. Also I light a lot of tea candles, it makes things a bit cosier and the warmth and light are great. Also wear bright clothing (or like a piece of colourful jewelery or a red lipstick or something). I’m fighting against the winter blues myself.

    If all else fails, St John’s Wort may help, I’m experimenting with it myself.

    • 16 paris (im)perfect November 21, 2010 at 7:39 pm

      Hi there. All very good ideas. Thanks! I’ve just taken a break from writing some of my melancholy fiction – right now it’s sort of working in my favor that it cold and dark outside. Really sets the mood :)

      But I totally agree. That’s a brilliant idea about Darty, too. There’s one close by to me. Maybe I should swing by every day and get a free dose of the sun lamp :)

  9. 17 Delana November 23, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    I wrote a “sad” post at just about the same time, Sion. I must get one of those light machines. I’m a night owl too. I wish that I spent more time getting REAL things done, like writing, and less time in front of my computer doing…what is it that I spend so much time doing? Hope you’re feeling better.

  10. 18 Lindsey November 23, 2010 at 11:08 pm

    I think we’re all feeling a bit of SAD – optimism is waning, sniffling has replaced the sweating and a general malaise sits in sucking all the motivation you may have had out of you. But you’re doing it. You’re chugging along. So sit in that chair and fight the SAD, you’ll be proud of the challenge in the end!


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paris (im)perfect?

Sion Dayson is paris (im)perfect. Writer, dreamer, I moved to France on – no exaggerating – a romantic whim. As you can imagine, a lot can go wrong (and very right!) with such a (non)plan. These are the (im)perfect stories that result.

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