The Best of Times?

By Louise Ure

There are enough bleak times to span the seasons. But then, every now and again, a couple of THESE weeks come along, when all your favorite things happen at once.

Weeks when lots of old friends show up at book signings in Seattle and Los Angeles and San Leandro.


And they buy books. Lots of books.


Weeks when your desk is covered with anthuriums and orchids because your spouse knows the value of a continuing Valentine’s Day celebration.


Weeks when you get to have lunch with one of your favorite people in the whole world. (Mrs. Claus was there, too, although suffering with a mean bronchitis.)


Weeks when your sister arrives for a weekend’s worth of birthday partying (hers, not mine). She gets to request any meal and almost always picks osso buco.


Then we pamper ourselves with pedicures and good red wine.


Weeks when you’re reading a new friend’s manuscript and realizing what a fine, fine writer she is. (Are you listening, Susan?)


Weeks when you treat yourself to a new toy and find it to be even more fun than you ever thought possible.


Weeks when some neighborhood wag leaves this on your door and makes you smile.



So what’s the problem? Anhedonia, I’m guessing, or its little sister "too much input, not enough time for reflection."

Anhedonia, of course, is an inability to appreciate normally pleasurable activities. For me, this week, it’s literary anhedonia. An inability to enjoy a good read (with a couple of exceptions) or write anything worth a damn myself.

And that’s scary. When your go-to source of pleasure dries up and no matter how many other good things in life are happening, all you can think  about  are the things that aren’t.

The tour is almost done. I have the gorgeous Authors on the Move event in Sacramento to look forward to, then a visit from our own Pari, then Denver for LCC.

Someplace along the way, I hope I can dash this feeling of ennui and dissatisfaction that’s taken root. I need to fall in love with reading and writing again.

Tell me, my ‘Rati brethren, what makes a great week for you? And any suggestions for this too-long string of days when the pleasure of reading and writing has abandoned me?



27 thoughts on “The Best of Times?

  1. ken Bruen

    Louisesuch blogs as this sure help make one fine week and the photos alone guarantee a smile,RATI-FIED indeedloveKen

  2. billie

    Oh my gosh – Ken’s RATI-FIED would make a great button/bumpersticker/seal of approval on good books… πŸ™‚

    A good week includes:

    a good ride, hopefully more than one, where something comes together (like yesterday, Keil Bay’s huge floating trot)

    good writing and/or revelations about same

    good times with children and husband

    a book so good I start back at the beginning and read it again

    a great meal (we have lots of good ones, but the great ones are special)

    a day with nothing on the schedule

    a miniature donkey braying good morning when I go out to feed

    and a cat purring in my lap while I tilt and angle to type, like now!

  3. Rae

    A great week is spent in Paris, on the Left Bank, hanging out in cafes and shopping a bit (OK, a lot πŸ˜‰

    As far as reading slumps, I usually re-read a few old favorites to get back into the swing of things.

  4. Louise Ure

    Oh yes, Rae, a week spent in Paris would be just the ticket. And maybe rereading some of my old French favorites. Not mysteries, unfortunately. Rabelais, Camus, Colette.

  5. Zoe Sharp

    Fabulous photos, Louise, and a wonderful, thought-provoking post, as always.

    I agree with Rae – re-reading an old favourite usually lifts me out of the literary blues. Like watching a trashy film you’ve seen so many times before you can practically recite the dialogue along with the actors.

    It’s cold enough today for the ice not to melt on the beck at the bottom of the garden, despite the gorgeous clear winter light on the fell, so tonight maybe I’ll go outside and stare up at the stars. Nothing rekindles your sense of magic quite like a natural wonder.

    But I can’t get the image of that minature donkey out of my head now…

  6. Alexandra Sokoloff

    What a GORGEOUS picture of you LU!!

    I know I’m a broken record on this and it’s not very poetic but if I’m feeling down or apathetic for over a week it’s a sure bet I haven’t been exercising.

    It really does seem to be that simple.

  7. Louise Ure

    “Write two character bios and call me in the morning.” Ms. Smiley, you have me laughing today, and that’s already an improvement.

    That sounds like good lunar eclipse-viewing weather, Zoe.

    And X, physical stimulation may be just the ticket. But can I get some of that without having to do exercise, please?

  8. pari noskin taichert

    Louise,Over-stimulation, yes.

    And, you know what? Sometimes when I feel that way, I need to get away — go for a drive and just sit somewhere quiet — look at mountains (or ocean, in your case) and places where people are not, cannot be.

    Does that make sense?

    X’s comment about exercise is also right on. Even taking a walk and getting that body moving can do wonders to my attitude.

    And, Patty was right, too. Write something that DOESN’T count, doesn’t have to count.

    At least, that’s what I do . . .

    Can’t wait to see you!

  9. j.t. ellison

    Actually, I was going to suggest sex. Something that takes you out of yourself. Exertion without exercise. Works well. ; )

    I run into this. I have to go back to books I know entranced me, reread the old favorites. Diana Gabaldon, J.K. Rowling, and when I’m writing and this happens, John Connolly. Sometimes even the thought that I’m going to clear a day or two and recharge with these old friends makes it all better.

  10. toni

    I think anhedonia’s our subconscious mind’s way of say “busy at work, come back later.” And honestly, when I’m in that place mentally, I walk away from the reading and the writing and take the time to re-charge. I’ve got hobbies I enjoy (photography) and family, and sometimes I just need a few down days to reconnect and relax. Long hot baths, lots of conversation. Going someplace busy and people-watching with good friends is always going to start the character development engine.

    I think writers are so used to always being “at work” that, after a while, we tend to forget that other people don’t carry their work around with them 24/7, and maybe that’s a good thing. πŸ˜‰

    Love the photo of you, Louise!

  11. Louise Ure

    JT, key to your solution is that phrase “clear a day or two.” That seems insurmountable as a goal all by itself.

    But the sex part of the advice is a great idea! As is Pari’s “go look at the ocean.” I need some roof deck time. (Hope the rain quits before you get here, Pari!)

  12. Elaine Flinn

    “When your go-to source of pleasure dries up and no matter how many other good things in life are happening, all you can think about are the things that aren’t.”

    Considering the scores of details one must remember when on tour, the traveling, the routine break, the… Maybe you’re just tired, ever think of that? πŸ™‚

    When I get one of those weeks – I go back to Maugham and my favorite Italian and Greek cookbooks and make tons of food I shouldn’t be eating. πŸ™‚ But what the hell, right?

    And hey – great photos!

  13. Louise Ure

    Sorry, guys, I got wrapped up in real life for a moment there.

    Santa, you’ve lost so much weight since that picture was taken, I hardly recognized you in SoCal! But what a nice lunch with you two.

    JT, I wish I had a good story to go with that necklace, instead of the last minute 75% off purchase it was. Let’s see … maybe it was willed to me by a long lost relative who …

  14. Louise Ure

    JD, you can come look at my ocean any day, although if you chose today, it would be a bleak rainy time at the beach.

    Toni, you’re so right. I do forget that in my past life, even though I was an over-achiever, I didn’t work round the clock seven days a week. I really ought to plan a lunch HOUR, and maybe every now and again take a WHOLE DAY OFF.

    Greek food, Elaine! What a wonderful idea. A panacea. (Although my true comfort food might be French Onion Soup.)

  15. G. T. Karber

    Originally, Anhedonia was the title of Annie Hall, but the producers couldn’t figure out a way to slide the definition into the trailer.

    So, thankfully, it was changed.

  16. Louise Ure

    G. T., I do so love insider jokes like that. For the same reason I’m pleased that Erle Stanley Gardner made his D.A. Hamilton (“Ham”) Burger, I wish they’d made her Annie Donia.

  17. Dave Arnold

    Hey – wasn’t me left that note on your door. My guess is somebody else with the same last name. I wonder who…

  18. Elaine Flinn

    Well, here’s a thought, Louise – to brighten up your miasma – J.T. can bring the wine – and I’ll fix Moussaka and Spanakopita. But be sure to have some of your Osso Buco on hand for fall back, k? I mean, one never knows when the gourmet witch decides to screw with one. πŸ™‚

  19. j.t. ellison

    Well, since you’re having a party, here’s a wine suggestion that should go nicely with Elaine’s Moussaka:

    Chateau Julia Merlot

  20. Sharon Wheeler

    Louise, that necklace is gorgeous!

    Um, yes to the shopping in Paris, buying perfume and stacks of jewellery, visiting the museums and galleries, sitting in my favourite Parisian park watching the world go by, and eating ice cream overlooking the Seine.

    Yes to quiet evenings with a pile of books which grab you from the start.

    Yes to plenty of Green and Blacks chocolate to help the books along.

    And yes to an Indian meal out with your favourite girlfriends to catch up on gossip and put the world to rights . . .


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