Joni Mitchell came up with “Both Sides, Now” almost fifty years ago and it still remains one of her most known and re-recorded song. A lot of people love it, nobody hates it, a lot of people heard it too many time to care about it.
As far as its connection to writing goes, Joni might have been a bit too young when she wrote it to realize that along with the two sides, there is that middle ground for writers. After all, she wrote music and lyrics, hopefully, she still can and does.
Doesn’t sound reasonable? Ok, lets put it this way - every writer has his highs, days when words just simply keep pouring out of you, more than you ever thought you could come up with in weeks, let alone a single day. But then there’s that other, darkish side when nothing plausible comes to mind, let alone come out of it, not even boredom, emptiness or figuring out whether you’re actually procrastinating or not.
Of course, you want and need those (natural) highs, not only do they produce abundance, but usually come with your exemplary work. The only problem is they only come once so often.
On the other hand, lows were here, have gone, but will be back at some point again. The best way to handle them is to accept them as an inevitable moment(s) of your writing (as well as other) life. Ignore them in that manner and they’ll be gone sooner than you were afraid they would. After all, fear is the thing that feeds them.
And that you get that third side, the one Joni forgot or neglected, that middle ground that writers too take for granted because… well, they’re so average. But those ‘average’ days are writer’s bread and butter - you have a set pace of writing, research and ‘everything else’, from shopping to… whatever.
As a writer, you hope for more highs, but those can be very exhausting in every way, and unfortunately, when their tide leaves, it is lows that remain, and you definitely don’t want those hanging around for too long. So those might be the two sides that bookend the middle ground the place where writers usually sit in but aren’t aware of. Maybe that was the thought circling in Joni’s mind when she wrote:
“I've looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It's cloud illusions I recall
I really don't know clouds at all” (Joni Mitchell, “Both Sides, Now”)
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