I have recently rediscovered The Eels–and this song called ‘Novocain for the Soul’ just came up on my i-Pod. LOVE it. You all remember it, right? Life is hard. But so am I. First you’re born. And then you die. Novocane…for the soul. It’s ultimately a pessimistic song, but the pessimism is just SOOOOOO funky and creative, it perks me right up. So does the song ‘I hate everyone.’ So does the opening from ‘Les Mis.’ So does ‘Rubber Ducky’ from Sesame Street. Yup, that’s right. I just put ‘I hate everyone’ side by side with ‘Rubber Ducky’.
Do we see the dichotomy?
We were doing this word in class, and it occurred to me that I tended to live in this word–all because of the sentence that I pulled out of an orifice. “All of my friends are either optimists or pessimists–I’m constantly in the middle of a dichotomy.”
After I pulled this sentence out of said orifice, I cleaned it up and sprayed on a shitload of disinfectant, and took a look at it.
Holy crap it’s true.
Let’s talk e-buddies first.
I’ve got Roxie, who writes and reads wonderful, fun, stories–yes, some bad, gruesome things happen, but there is ultimately a smile on the reader’s face and a belief that good will triumph and triumph MIGHTILY! There is an underlying belief in Roxie’s stories that love, good humor and hard work can bring people together if only they will embrace goodness with their whole heart. It is not a ‘blithe, carefree’ belief, it’s a belief born of a full life, with some real rough spots and a true wisdom of what those rough spots can teach us.
And I’ve got my e-buddy LW, whom I love, but who hates everyone. (Well, mostly everyone. Well, probably especially me, now that I’ve dragged her kicking and screaming out of lurkerdom–sorry, sweetie, you were just such a perfect example, and I can’t resist them.) LW is essentially a good person–she is kind, fierce, dependable, and funny. But she has her own wisdom born of rough spots and it’s a much more bloodthirsty sort of wisdom, and I can totally get on board. (She’s invited me to her wading pool of doom when we both get sent to hell–I told her I’m SOOOOOOOOOOO there.)
I totally identify with them both. I am both an ‘I hate everyone’ person and a ‘Rubber Ducky’ person. I’m a ‘back away from my sharp and pointy metal teeth’ person and a ‘let me knit you socks for the hell of it’ person. I’m a ‘We need to forgive our enemies’ sort of person and I’m a ‘As long as we see them die kicking and screaming in a pool of their own blood’ person.
I’m sort of a dichotomy.
I pointed this out to Chicken. I said, “I seem to have a lot of friends on extreme sides of the dark/light scale.”
She said, “What do you mean?”
I said, “I have friends who are pure forces of good and kindness and happiness in the universe…”
And she said, “Like Ladybug and Big T.”
I raised my eyebrows–she was right. “And I have friends who are on the side of good but they are considerably darker and pricklier and…”
“And like me, Mom. Or like the Cave Troll.”
And I said nothing. I just opened and closed my mouth, in complete surprise.
So there you go–that is me. I’m the vertical bar in the middle of the T-chart, the triangle point in the middle of the scales, I am Libra, hear me waffle.
And the reason this seemed relevant is that I just got back Roxie’s (AWESOME AND THOUGHTFUL) notes. She’s a little unhappy about the darkness that seems to consume the end of the book. There is an (ultimately) uplifting message at the end, but, like a (VERY) good editor, she is asking if all of that sturm and drang and pain and darkness is worth it.
And I’m sitting in the middle of the T-chart thinking, is it?
Because I can see it both ways. I can see it ‘I COULD re-write this with a happier ending.’ and I see it, ‘Life his hard. And then you die.’ And so I try for the middle.
And that’s my debate right now–and I’m going to chew over it for quite a while. For those of you who have seen ‘stranger than fiction’, you know that suffering may make first rate fiction, but it doesn’t necessarily make for a happy or sane fiction WRITER.
So, while I’m mulling it over, how do you folks stand on the T-chart? Pure dark? Pure light? How does it affect your reading? Do you likes you a good cry? Do you NEED that HEA? At one point does unrelenting suffering become ‘not a good read’? I’m mulling right now, although I’m pretty sure most of my major editing decisions are made–I’d still like your opinion. It’s one of those things that knocks about between the dark side of the T-chart and the light, in the space that defines my stoned-ferret brain.