Saturday, October 26, 2013

Literary Mood Disorder and the Power of Words

a post by Betsy Schow

My mom used to say, "Need a vacation, read a book."

Books have the awesome power to allow readers to escape their lives and step into a new world.

Recently, I've figured out it goes even further than that. My name is Betsy and I have LMD, Literary Mood Disorder.

Whenever I read (or now write for that matter) I am completely immersed into the emotions of the book. A few nights ago, I was really weepy and couldn't figure out why. It's because I was reading a particularly sad book and couldn't shake the emotion even when I'd closed the cover.

Thus I realized I am a total sheep, and should have figured this out years ago. In fact, I bet I was such a moody teenager thanks to the mass quantities of V.C Andrews I read.

Or maybe another road sign was when my husband started buying me romance novels around year 7 in our marriage. (first child was born shortly thereafter)

You are what you eat. Well, you are what you read and write too. Books inspire, lighten, frighten, and sink.
My first three published and in the process of being published books were lighter in tone and nature. Lots of laughs, some snark, and a little bit heart tugging on the side.

The two I'm working on now might just suck my soul through a straw. They are both a lot darker than I am usually, but tackle subjects that I had something to say about. Redemption and choice for the first, and cyber bullying and suicide on the second. So for the last six months I have been the most anti-social, down in the dumps creature to grace a keyboard. My poor, poor family. Hopefully it will be worth it when I come out the other end having grown as a writer and a person.

So to anyone who has ever said, "Oh, it's no big deal. I don't care what my kids read, they're just books after all and not real" -- I attack you with bookmarks and hope those papercuts sting.

We need to watch what we let our children read. We need to watch what we read, keeping in mind how books are changing us. I am not advocating we only read Happy Fluffy Bunny books or keep our kids away from getting a glimpse of the sometimes sad and harsh realities of the world. But never forget that books and words have power.

To change a family

To change the course of a nation

To change the soul

In either direction


  1. Wow, this is so true. I was writing a very emotional part in my book the other night (the MC’s only solace is her horse and her enemy sent the SPCA to take the horse from her, citing her with extreme neglect- LIES) I found myself crying as I wrote it, then crying later thinking about it, and then crying when I was rereading it the next day! Fortunately, I’ve been reading a Sophie Kinsella book that has been making me laugh out loud, so the contrast is keeping me sane.

    Have you tried reading something a bit cheerier while you work on the tough stuff? I highly recommend Sophie Kinsella. Or Melanie Jacobson. Both good laugh-out-loud options. :-)

  2. Hahaha! I love that new disorder. I too suffer from LMD. I think that's why lately I've just been reading light books, my life is already too dramatic right now (I have three teenagers!) But it is true that we need to watch what we let enter our mind. It not only affects our moods but could affect the choices we make in life.

  3. So true that book/words have powers, for good or ill. it bothers me that so much non-constructive stuff is published. Garbage in, garbage out.



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