The Moody Blues


The sun is setting, and I’m standing on the beach watching along with a few scattered onlookers who have gathered to experience this once-a-day miracle of color and majesty. The air is soft and cool, the waves lap softly at my feet.

Light of setting sun

Transforms the ocean waves

Into liquid gold.

“Can’t we go now?” a voice whines. “We’ve been here forever. I’m cold, this is so a waste of time.”

The 12 year old is huddled in a jacket and has dug her sneakers into the sand. Her mouth is turned down, her eyes are narrowed, and everything about her exudes disgust and boredom. Amused, I glance to my left and see a couple probably in their late teens, the girl leaning against her companion. His cheek is against her hair, sunlight reflects against their rapt faces, and their world has narrowed to two. I can almost hear romantic mood music playing.

What would we do without Mood? It’s the staple of any artist. A painter finds it in her palette; a quilter in the hues and values of fabric, a writer uses words to portray a scene, set a tone. So should I want to create a pivotal scene which will reveal the thoughts and motivations of many people, I use a tactic that I call the Moody Blues.

In this sunset scene the Moody Blues is already at work. There is the bored-out-of-her-skull tweenie who is continuing to whine that she never gets to do anything, that she has sand in her sneakers and, listen, she’s already said she’s hungry. There are the young lovers. If I were to write their thoughts, they might go something like this: There’s never been a sunset like this, no, not since the world began, and it’s a sign of our love, isn’t it? Of course it is, of course.

             For some variety,  I’m going to imagine that someone else is watching this same setting sun on a ship far out at sea and feeling a sense of dread because night is coming and he has a premonition that something is going to happen. He thinks: That old sun is telling me something. It’s a  sign for me to get out while I still can. No, I have to get a grip. It’s just a sunset.

Moody Blues can be subtle or it can slap down, hard.  Consider that girl standing on the sand dune some distance away. Her face is hard and set, her hands are fisted at her sides as she watches the young lovers.  What does he see in her? It makes me sick to watch them.  She ruins everything for me.  I hate her!” And the green-eyed monster is off and running.

Moody Blues can be used to change any two-dimensional character into a Person Of Interest. Depending on the way I want my story to go, I can turn the sight of this beautiful sunset into something peaceful, or miserable, or ominous, or scary. Let’s go with scary and imagine yet another character—let’s make him lean and rather handsome but tight-lipped, intense, and concentrating hard as he thinks:  Sunset red…  the color of blood.

Now the sun is touching the horizon, and that great, red orb is dipping slowly into the water, but I’m thinking more of my real and imaginary watchers. I’ve invented their moods and thoughts, of course, but were I to write their story how would it play out? How would these lives intersect? Hmm… maybe I’ll try and work it out. After all. it’s  fun to play the Moody Blues!



About Maureen C. Wartski

I’m Maureen Wartski, writer, artist, wife, mother, grandmother; you can see that I have many of the bases covered. I was born in Ashiya, Japan, a (then) small town which lay cradled between sea and mountains. In the evenings, we would walk along the road that ran past Osaka Bay, and a great moon would rise out of the water to turn the world to silver. I’m told that my first words were, “Big moon!” All my life I have felt the tug to write something, draw something, put together something with fabric, string and color, and the urge to create has grown through the years. I suppose, then, that it’s a natural thing that this blog be full of the things that so many of you enjoy doing…drawing, making something with fabric, and writing. Yuri's Brush with Magic, my newest book for middle schoolers follows the adventures of a brother and sister, the magic of words, and the incredible magic of the natural world. I'd love to hear from you! You can send me a note at: My blog is here: Or friend me on Facebook!

10 responses »

  1. ah yes, maureen, moody blues… i loved the quilt too it reflects it own moods.
    you have the visual to show us that mood in the quilt. now you switch to the art of writing it with your thoughts. i hope you find a way to tell the story, a reflection of each of the characters you draw with your pen..
    it can be thrilling to see what your imagination will bring forth ,quite amazing when you really let go and let that gift take you where it will. i think one has to guide that imagination sometimes too. ( for me. to guide into a positive direction… with an uplifting ending~~!!
    ah then i can go to sleep peacefully….

    • An uplifting ending…. let’s see. The sunset is filling the sky with light, and two friends are walking on the beach. We walk in silence because the friendship is of such a quality that words aren’t necessary. The sun warms us and we smile, enjoying the moment, the day, and the thought of a good dinner to come!

      How’s that??


    • Hi, Linda–

      Isn’t it fun to play ‘Moody Blues’? I can get quite carried away, imagining characters, changing them, letting them go. Sometimes a good story idea appears out of nowhere, too…

    • Hi, Mary–

      I would love to see what you write, and what the ‘moody blues’ inspires. I like the game very much! It can also inspire other forms of art… painting, fabric art, and stories for the grand children!!


  2. In your poem, the liquid gold of the ocean waves gives a shimmer of light throughout the writing. Thank you for this gift. Blonnie

  3. Thank YOU, Blonnie! I remember that you, too, live near the sea? It’s the perfect time to imagine and dream and play a little with images and ideas. And those Moody Blues are always fun!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s