What You Can Learn From Pablo Neruda

Last night I found myself distracted while writing again.  Nothing seemed to flow, and nothing seemed to work.  A few hours in, I found a few paragraphs of choppy language and poorly crafted metaphors before me on the computer screen.  I whined and sat there frustrated, but then I stumbled across this by one of my favorite poets, Pablo Neruda:

Tonight I Can Write

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

Write, for example, ‘The night is starry
and the stars are blue and shiver in the distance.’

The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

Through nights like this one I held her in my arms.
I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.

She loved me, sometimes I loved her too.
How could one not have loved her great still eyes.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
To think that I do not have her.  To feel that I have lost her.

To hear the immense night, still more immense without her.
And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.

What does it matter that my love could not keep her.
The night is starry and she is not with me.

This is all.  In the distance someone is singing.  In the distance.
My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

My sight tries to find her as though to bring her closer.
My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.

The same night whitening the same trees.
We, of that time, are no longer the same.

I no longer love her, that’s certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.

Another’s.  She will be another’s.  As she was before my kisses.
Her voice, her bright body.  Her infinite eyes.

I no longer love her, that’s certain, but maybe I love her.
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.

Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms
my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer
and these the last verses that I write for her.

If Neruda wrote through heartbreak, I can certainly write through boredom and distraction and frustration.

Use your mood to propel your art.  If you’re feeling bored, write an andrenaline-pumping scene.  If you’re feeling sentimental, write about the reunion of estranged relatives or long-separated lovers.  The worst thing you can do is to keep trudging along through your story in a linear fashion.  Instead, take advantage of your moods and create something grand.

What moods do you find yourself in when you write?