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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

And today's word of the day is...

Dichotomy

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.

11 comments:

Bells said...

I'm in the middle. I can be awfully dark and cynical. But I have an overriding optimism and cheerfulness that stops me sinking down into that too much. Depends on the day!

TinkingBell said...

Me too - cynical sceptical and blood thirsty - but love most people and am convinced that karma will bite bad people on the bum and the good will get their rewards - soon! I'm still waiting for the bitingness to affect George Bush (both of them) and ex-prime minister John Howard. It will come - oh yes it will!

The Lady in Red said...

I don't know. Where would you put me? I've been accused of being violent and angry, and an eternal optomist. I don't really feel like either, although I think I'm more far too jaded to land on the light side of things for very long.

And ultimately, this book, and all its siblings, is your baby. You have to be happy and able to live with it when you set it free. Do what your heart tells you should be done. It shan't suck no matter what you do.

Galad said...

Most people would think I'm far on the side of light, however I see myself in the middle. I share my life with some friends and family who embody the darker edge so appreciate the balance.

In literature, I prefer realism even when it is painful.

Amy Lane said...

Uhm, for some reason (a kid on my arm) I pressed reject for Siercia's comment--sorry darlin'--here's what she said:-)


Yeah, I think I'm in the middle as well.

KnitTech said...

I think it has to do with who's looking. I got friends who say I'm bright and encouraging. I got others who say I've got volient tendancies.

Donna Lee said...

I am an eternal optimist, a silver lining person. I hardly ever have "kill them all and sort them out later" thoughts. I don't think I'm a Pollyanna, I know that there are folks who are inherently evil but I believe the world is a fair place and that karma will catch up with everyone eventually.

I put off seeing Batman for weeks because I wasn't sure I could deal with the "unrelentingly grimness" that several reviewers reported. It was grim, but had enough light to give hope. That's what dark parts of stories need - hope. Hope that the sun will come up and the clouds will eventually pass. Keep your ending but let in some hope.

Louiz said...

I'm not a perky person (as an ex-goth, I couldn't be perky if my life depended on it), but I do tend to think that people make mistakes, or don't understand rather than are bad people, and that everything will come right in the end however dark the road there gets.

I am fairly grumpy though.

Roxie said...

Having spent a couple of episodes on the edge of suicide, I know the suck and fascination of the dark, and run from it like a dry alcoholic runs from the "happy" hour. I need light and the optimism and need to practice it daily. Hence my hyper-sensitivity to the suffering and sorrow. So take my comments with the proverbial grain of salt. I wanted to be honest about how I saw it, but that's just my perspective. You know that, though, and you know I adore your writing! It's damn fine and ultimately positive and I love your books.

Catie said...

I tend to read happier books than dark books because the dark ones make me feel depressed - and do so pretty easily. I don't mind if there is some tough things that the characters go through, but if it gets to be too much I put the book down and perhaps don't pick it up again because I'm so affected by what I read and watch. My husband hates it when I watch the news because I sometimes (most of the time according to him) get pissed off and yell at the TV... But for your books you should write them how you like

Eric said...

Keep the darkness. There is always a price to pay for happiness and many times it is a difficult one to pay.