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Despair Is Boring
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Oh, most excellent evening, here on the far side of a bottle of wine.

It's been a nice week; I had lunch with Susan on Wednesday, I've been writing a couple of pages a day on the Bridge novel, and reading The Year of Our War by Steph Swainston. Have also been reading lots of short stories. Nick and I interviewed one another for Lenox Ave., which was fun. Life is quiet and nice. Glasses of wine, cups of coffee, good books, snuggling up against the cold at night, listening to the rain, watching the fog drift across the tops of the trees.

A few nights ago there was a thunderstorm, a rarity around here. There was a flash of lightning so bright that it woke me from a deep sleep, a glaring whiteness that lit up everything, even through my closed eyelids. For a moment, I thought I was dying, that I'd burst a blood vessel in my brain, or was having a seizure. I thought the brightness was a great neurological misfire, prelude to death. I was oddly peaceful about it, because I knew there was nothing to be done about it; in a sense, nothing to worry about. Then the thunder crashed, and I realized it was just lightning, and by then I was completely awake. It woke Heather up, too. The thunder was so loud it set off two car alarms in the street. Tremendous. I'd forgotten there were storms like that, living here in this strange temperate zone.

In my novel, I have to deal with the problem of despair. My protagonist despairs; much of the novel is about him adjusting to the circumstances of that despair and learning to cope. The problem? Despair is boring. I'm thinking of having a chapter that reads "Despair is boring. He despaired, for a time; then he did this:" And then the next chapter will be the next bit of real action. Sometimes that strikes me as a graceful way to handle the problem, and other times, it strikes me as lazy. But I wrote a whole story about grief ("Little Gods") and I'm not sure I want to do that again. This novel isn't really about grief; it's about getting on with things in the wake of catastrophic life-upheaval.

Actually, I think I've come up with a more graceful way to handle the issue, but you'll have to wait to read the novel to see what it is. "Sometimes, if you push yourself hard enough and far enough, you can get so far ahead of the curve of grief that you leave it behind forever." I wrote that once, years ago, and I've finally found the story that line belongs in.



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