The concept that “every cloud has a silver lining” has roots that go back to 1634 when the poet Milton wrote (Comus: A Masque Presented at Ludlow Castle, 1634):
Was I deceived, or did a sable cloud
Turn forth her silver lining on the night?
His allegorical use of clouds and silver linings sparked the use of that imagery in literature forevermore. Writers from that point forward used the phrase or a derivative of that phrase.
However, it was in 1840 – Victorian-era England – that the phrase was coined that we still hear today: ‘every cloud has a silver lining’. It was the result of a misprint in The Dublin Magazine that was doing a review of the novel, MARION, by Mrs. S. Hall. In the novel, Hall quoted the Milton piece, but in the review, the quoted material was misstated.
Per the site Phrases.org.uk, this proverb “appeared frequently in newspapers on both sides of the Atlantic”, from 1853 onward. Sarah Payton Parton (pen-name Fanny Fern), an American writer hired by the Home Journal magazine to write a motivational column, used it often. It was her theme. She became the highest-paid writer in the USA at that time due to her essays.
From her essay entitled, “Nil desperandum!”, the first lines rally readers’ spirits with:
NO, NEVER! Every cloud has a silver lining; and He who wove it knows when to turn it out. So, after every night, however long or dark, there shall yet come a golden morning.
I don’t know each reader’s situation as I write this. But I urge you to not give up, not give in to fear and frustration, but to look about for things to be thankful for. Only those with thankful eyes can spy that silver lining. There’s rescue to be had in reading, whether you find your escape in the Bible, a biography, a how-to, a graphic novel or a bestseller, seek words that will let you rest mentally and physically from the war raging with COVID-19. Many of us find peace and our silver linings in prayer and meditation.
I’ve learned from many writers about the difficulty they’re experiencing in focusing to create. I get it. I share it. And, I’ve found that working in shorter periods of time to accomplish just one task, one page, one chapter, is working better for me. And, I am able to put it all aside for an hour or two when I commit to an online workshop or summit. Learning makes me feel like I accomplished something, so I’m doing some of that every day. I take a few more breaks, but the mental fatigue has lessened. Might be worth a try.
So, in that vein, here is a dynamite offer from Writers Digest’s SCRIPT – a free workshop that’s usually $120. Check it out – the stronger our characters are, in fiction or creative non-fiction, the more readers will love our work. Something to focus on, a goal to have, an exercise to keep your wonderful mind engaged.
And, here is the link to an older WD article, that’s still applicable today! 10 Questions You Should Ask Your Characters
Keep reading and writing. Be kind to yourself and everyone you meet. And keep looking for that silver lining. I’ll keep you close in my prayers for peace and safekeeping.
See you next week. NQ