As I mentioned in my New TV Show Squee post back in January, I’ve been enjoying episodes of the (new to me) show The Good Place when I have a little downtime. In the episode I watched yesterday the head demon Michael (the Good Place architect) was complaining about humans and their fragile little bodies and ridiculous number of emotions. “You only need two,” he insisted. “Anger and confusion.”
While that can’t be right, I can’t help admitting that those two have topped the list for me more often than not for quite some time.
Possibly the last 404 days or so.
The news broadcast I generally watch when I get home from work begins each night with “it’s day xxx of the current administration,” oddly similar to the way broadcasts during the 444 days of the Iran Hostage Crisis of 1979-81 began years ago. It’s hardly something to engender happy, positive thoughts, not that the news makes any attempt to do so. Consistently seeing people doing (and generally getting away with) bad things definitely leads to confusion and anger, making it a real challenge to maintain a level of positivity.
While folks at work have commented more than once about how I’m always so calm and never seem get angry, Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream’ is a much better representation of what’s going on inside my head more often than not than Monet’s ‘Water Lilies’, especially if I’ve been out among . . . ugh . . . actual people.
Case in point: After running errands this weekend wherein the local coffee shop refused to honor a special that they had posted on the wall right by the register, the cashier at the store insisted that thread did not count as a “sewing notion” (the coupon in my hand clearly said that it did), and the driver of the car behind me in the parking lot blared his horn at me two different times apparently for not driving over the pedestrians who were crossing in front of me (one of which was blind for heaven’s sake), anger was definitely high on my list. It didn’t get any better during the 6 mile drive back home down a freeway that seemed awash in a bumper crop of litter and graffiti (two things I really dislike).
In an attempt to get back to my calm, happy place, I did what I’ve been doing since the beginning of the year – I finished a quilt I’d been working on, as well as a blanket I’d started the week before. As I added the latest completed items to the pile of finished projects (see the 6 blankets and 3 quilts in the chair photo above), I realized that unless my plan to achieve happiness included building an awesome blanket fort (not such a bad idea), it was probably time to channel my energies some other way like maybe . . . writing?
I haven’t been very successful getting words on the page in recent weeks because, for me at least, anger and creativity don’t work particularly well together. Writing light-hearted banter or a cute-meet is a real challenge when my mood is anything but light-hearted.
The obvious answer for me was to work on a different story.
Cue I Thought So, a short story I started working on a year or so ago when I was driving home from work, annoyed by a new batch of graffiti on the freeway sound walls. The story is not a romance by any stretch; more of a weird fantasy, dystopian, something-or-other. It’s got a society gone wrong, mind control, and the effects of a collective consciousness. The story stalled when I was first working on it because I couldn’t figure out how to resolve the conflict I had created or who the protagonist(s) should be. Fortunately, thanks to hearing Whitney Houston singing “children are our future” on the radio, coupled with the amazing efforts of the students currently fighting to change gun legislation, I think I have a solution. Tomorrow after work I’ll be curling up in a comfy blanket (I have many to choose from) and getting some words on the page, while the solution is still fresh in my mind.
Thinking about anger and confusion also got me to thinking about the hero in the last NaNo story I wrote. I wasn’t really happy with how he turned out, in part because I was not particularly clear about why he was the way he was. Thinking about it now it’s obvious. He was definitely angry. His dad died and he had to put aside his own dreams and plans to take care of the family business and help his mom and younger brother. Judging from the snippet below I subconsciously knew he was angry, I just hadn’t fully realized how that colored all he said /did throughout the story.
Instead of designing buildings to populate the cities of the future, Sam spent his days building cookie-cutter starter homes and bringing 1970s ranch houses into the 21st century; dealing with suppliers, permit offices, and clients who couldn’t make up their minds about paint colors or fixture finishes.
He hated it and resented his father for dying then hated himself for the thought.
Lesson learned there so, once I finish working on my short story I’ll be channeling my anger and confusion into the re-write of my NaNo story.
If that doesn’t work out, I think the local craft store has yarn on sale this week.
So how is everything with you? Have you found ways to channel real life into your writing recently?