I’ve written about it before: the two angels who sit on the writer’s shoulders…the kind encouraging one and the evil doubt-filled one. The bad one has been much present, lately. And not just for me, I know.

The Mercury-in-retrograde-hard-funk season is upon us. I’m not entirely convinced that the holidays are the cause. More, I think, the movement of the planets, the invisible forces that guide us; the Everything we are, pulled by the universal grid. Our own personal astrology—days lived under the sign of Uggggh with Meh rising.

Nothing written works. Nothing plotted grows. The story circles after its tail rather than leading with its nose. Ugly.

I sit with the thing night after night after day after day. I sit patiently in the darkness of me like a spelunker without a headlamp, chipping away with a spoon at the wall of a cave-in. The going is slow. Context, I remind myself. Perk up: You’re as miserably unhappy about every other thing in your life as you are about the book, a fact that should be suggestive of something. Enjoy the darkness and the quiet. But that is a tough ask.

When the book is wrong, I am wrong. When that bad angel has its claws dug in my shoulder, and is singing away on my shoulder, I find it hard to hear anything else. And in a world of many truths, the one the writer listens to is sometimes the one that shouts loudest.

The Zen of Me tells me to be peaceful and wait it out; to accept the Is that is, and wait for the Is that will surely be. Keep the fires burning, stay warm, and soon enough the heart-winter will end. But in Bad Angel Season, those are spare comforts.

What I’m needing is my own personal internal Christmas. Filled with gifts of balance. All year long.