I’m starting to believe that the universe never learned to count. Bad things happen in 3’s. One. Two. Three. Not four, five, six. I suppose that in fairness, it’s been several blocks of threes. The latest started last week when a customer at work stole my debit card and spent $1,800 before a stop was put on the card. Just as that began to straighten itself out, I played bumpercars with a speeding minivan. With my truck out of commission, my PT Cruiser wouldn’t start. Thank goodness for friends who stepped into help me out. The final straw was yesterday. It was a stupid last straw, but it seems something petty sends you over the edge. I stepped outside of work and the door locked behind me. No coat. No cell phone. No vehicle to drive somewhere to call. The temperature was 20 below. The last straw.
It’s times like these that I contemplate giving up writing. I’m overwhelmed and something has to give. Problem is that the only extra-curricular I can give up is writing. But its times like these when I need to write the most. I’m not sure my writing needs me.
I sat down to edit “Dolly” last night and my mood wasn’t clear. In fact, I was down-right growly. I’m scared to look at the chapters I plowed through with my red pen. Odds are good that my word choices were tainted by the mangled pickup truck. Or a pending financial shakeup. Or every muscle that ached. Or bottled frustration as I attempted to keep my son from worrying.
My mother used to say, “Don’t use that tone of voice with me.” I didn’t understand what she meant when I was young. Not until my son hit his pre-teens and I catch myself saying the same thing when he says, “Okay” in that tone of voice.
The words one chooses as a writer can have a tone as well. Take these this example of a girl’s a-ha moment when she finally understands her parents choices.
Response #1: You weren’t mature enough to understand before now.
Response #2: Now, you’re mature enough to understand.
What’s the difference? The first response focuses on negativity in the past. The second points out the positivity of the present. It’s a small difference, but one that can change the attitude of the reader and how they process your story. How your characters are perceived.
With that in mind, I’m going to revisit the work I did last night. I’m not sure that, “I’m done wasting my time when nothing is going to go right anyway. I might as well start sucking on a bottle of vodka and kiss my sorry ass goodbye,” is a tone true to “Dolly”.