Thursday, April 12, 2012

Get Revenge . . . On Paper - Catharsis Through Fiction Writing

Asked to contribute a guest post to a blog on writing, I decided to discuss the use of fiction writing to address times when we can think of nothing but revenge and thus achieve Catharsis.   [This post can be found at]. 

As luck would have it, shortly after writing it, WHAMO!  You guessed it.  One of those unpredictable, uncontrollable situations – in essence a repeat performance from a place I thought could no longer hurt me - reared its ugly head.
Let’s just say it involved some place I had worked for some period of time at some point in my life that I was convinced I had moved well past.  But if I was over it why did I keep hearing the theme song from “Deliverance” playing in my head? 

“Not okay,” I determine.  I’d arrived at that place I speak about in the guest blog – the desire for revenge, which as a writer I can best carry out on paper in the hopes of experiencing catharsis, ridding me of my anger.  The resulting passage?  Read for yourself.


The Obituary

Done with the paper, Nicole closed it and placed it on the table in front of her.  Getting up to make herself another cup of coffee, she froze halfway to the kitchen.  She flipped around and half ran - half skidded back to the table, remnants of coffee sloshing everywhere as she all but dropped it missing the coaster entirely.  Grabbing the paper, she quickly turned to the obituary section, certain she couldn’t have seen what she thought she had.  Not even they could stoop that low.

But there it was.  Center page, the large, bold name couldn’t be missed.  Her large, bold name couldn’t be missed.  Collapsing onto the couch, she attempted to brace herself for what she knew was more than merely a coincidence or mistake.
Nicole Anderson Helped From This World
Nicole Anderson died under circumstances of her own choosing on an unreported date, with the help of a member of an unnamed euthanasia society.  Ms. Anderson was praised for finally allowing herself to perceive her many limitations and accept the necessity of asking for help in order to successfully end her life despite being a recognized coward and multi-phobic.  She was known to be irrationally terrified of needles, blood, injuries, inability to breath (once when briefly employed using all her sick time in a single month due to a simple cough leading to the belief she would stop breathing any minute), heights, drowning (even refusing a free cruise paid for by her generous employers to decrease her mental distress, because of her inability to see land at all times making it impossible to  maintain the delusion that she could swim back to shore if necessary), and swallowing pills, becoming hysterical when required to do so. 

Believed to have lost her way very early in life, she none-the-less developed the ability to cope with this sad state of affairs, even managing to maintain a relatively happy existence through reliance on an active fantasy life.  Unfortunately, this protective shield began to deteriorate when confronted with numerous false claims she’d made based on her fantasy world such as having earned a Ph.D., formerly serving as the Director of a Graduate Program, and working as a Senior Clinical Supervisor at an institution said to have never heard of her.   Sadly she suddenly found herself unable to make her way back to the fantasies that had sustained her throughout her life, and was forced to face the facts that truly defined her years.

Coming to realize that she had only managed to work for brief periods in unskilled positions, a homeless shelter her only known place of residence, she sought out assistance to end her misery.  While, at least in her mind, she’d worked tirelessly to help others, it is profoundly sad that she wasn’t able to find a way to help herself, at least  in the real world.  Due to there being no know survivors or friends, no burial information is currently available as it has not yet been determined how the costs will be covered.

Nicole knew exactly where it had come from and also knew she’d never prove it.  Though she probably should have been furious, she found laughter bubbling out of her in response to such an over the top attempt to get to her.  She’d be sure to tack it on the bulletin board at work in the break room with a handwritten note stating, “Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”  Of course, her failure to respond with increased despondency over what her employers undoubtedly believed to be a brilliant ploy to further twist the knife, would only cause them to yet again turn up the heat. 

“Well, let them,” she thought throwing the offending item across the room to land in a heap.
Their pitiful attempts to hurt her would never gain hold.  She had inner resources they hadn’t even begun to suspect existed yet.  But they’d learn.  Oh, how they’d learn.  As ideas began to form and swirl in her head she seriously considered taking up the banjo. 


"So did it work?” I hear you asking.  “Is the anger truly gone?”

I’ll be honest – not entirely.

But there is good news.   Writing this passage has given me a great idea for a complete novel.   And one thing you can be certain of  – figured prominently will be a banjoist on the roof.

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