The Disadvantage of Writing a Novel

Suppose a man had a weekend when he felt childishly frustrated. That wouldn’t be me, of course. I’m too old and much too mature to ever be childish. It was just somebody I know. Who lives in my neighborhood.

What are some good ways to relieve frustration? One I haven’t used, but would be open-minded about trying, would be to take a sledge hammer and go through the neighborhood, trying to make everyone’s car no more than six inches tall.

That does sound good sometimes, but I don’t want to buy a sledge hammer that I wouldn’t be able to use in the jail cell. Another remarkably popular method of addressing frustration is to try to replace all the water in the body with alcohol. I missed the time in my life when I might have done that. That is, I didn’t miss it exactly, but that was in the past, and we don’t need to talk about it.

No sir, now that I’m mature and everything, when I feel whiny and deprived and frustrated with life, I do what a mature person would do. I write about it. No broken windows for me. No happy cries of ethanolic joy. I’m pushing keys on the computer. Yeah! Now I feel better!

But there are degrees of cathartic relief one might get from writing, depending on the genre. Let’s review them.

[1] Novels—The catharsis of writing a novel, with its broad range and long incubation, concerns philosophical points of view and long-held beliefs about the nature of life. I have made the protagonist realize that being an artist is, after all, more important than food or lodging.

[2] Short stories—A great advantage of short stories for expression of the angst welling up in the best of us is that a short story doesn’t take for-ev-er to write. Within a week or so, if you hurry, you can smack that last period on the page, and whatever it was you were feeling a week ago when you started, now it’s released, sort of.

[3] Poetry—Poems are even shorter. Even better, they don’t have to make sense. Maybe 100 years ago they were required to make sense, but modern poetry has freed us from that bondage. And as all high school students know, any shit you can scrawl down the page counts, as long as it’s heartfelt. Since I have fallen under the pernicious influence of a group of poets, I have written poetry myself. It helps. I mean, it’s no sledge hammer, but you go to jail less often for writing it. I’m not saying that’s fair.

[4] A box of salt on a nice lawn—This has a delay in satisfaction, but if you can wait a few days, taking a large box of salt and writing FUCK IT on a lawn somewhere, seeing your words gradually appear in the dead grass can provide some emotional release.

So what am I doing? I’m writing a novel. I’m going to write about a character who gets drunk and goes to the store to buy a sledge hammer and a box of salt.

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