Small Talk About Things That Matter

What is fiction? It is truth clothed in costumes. It is the view from the other side of the mirror. It is the tragic/comic outcome of unrestrained authenticity. It is reality disguised to protect the writer from judgment or institutionalization or both.

***

Season two of Happy Valley is history. I gather the decision was reached  in 2016 that no further episodes would be produced. That’s a shame. The sixth and final episode of the second and final season was an emotional powerhouse. It drained me completely. And it left deep and provocative thoughts pressing heavily on my mind when it ended. I wanted badly to do something to lessen the pain of the main character as the episode ended; of course I know this is manufactured stuff. Of  course I know it’s not factual. But, still. It was so horribly believable and so painfully real and so devastatingly heartbreaking.

***

Yesterday’s almost monstrously warm temperatures won’t return today. At least that’s what the weather forecasters say. Today’s high is expected to reach only the mid-40s, twenty degrees or more cooler than yesterday. I will wear layers today. I will be warm when I venture out into the uncomfortably chilly day.

***

I discovered yesterday that a two to three minute eulogy is extremely short. I’ll have to pare down the eulogy I wrote before I deliver it on Sunday. It now stands at longer than the time allotted for it. It’s hard when there’s more to say than time to say it. Brevity is the soul of wit. Sometimes, I am witless. I will carve away words that don’t add meaning and value. I may slice it down to considerably less than the limit; sometimes, the fewer words said, the more reverential the message.

***

Today, I return to the oncologist. Every time I go back, even when there are no test results to review, I’m nervous. I guess that’s because…duh…I’m going to see the oncologist. After seeing the oncologist, we’ll go out to lunch. Or maybe I’ll go alone, depending on whether my wife goes with me. She was up again today when I got up at 5; had been for a long while. She went back to bed when I got up for the day. Depending on many things unknown or unexpected, perhaps we’ll embark on an unplanned road trip, if we’re feeling half-way decent and fully adventurous. I’d like to go to Mississippi or Louisiana. Neither state is likely to actually become a destination for today; lingering colds, lack of planning (oh, how I hate to have to plan spur-of-the-moment trips; it seems so utterly oxymoronic), and a variety of other intrusions are apt to interfere with my fantasies. Oh, well.

***

A minor character in Happy Valley, John Wadsworth (played by Kevin Doyle), exemplified the decent man whose mistakes reveal fundamental character flaws suggesting he is not really a decent man, after all. He’s the “average Joe” who pretends to be a good man but who, beneath the veneer of respectability and decency, is rotten. At his core, he is selfish and self-indulgent; he blames others for his own unforgivable deeds. Yet he remains vulnerable and he retains the viewer’s sympathies even as his brokenness is revealed. I admire the writing (and the acting) that paint such a complex  character with so few strokes. He’s not constantly in front of the camera, but he is constantly part of the story. Brilliant writing. John Wadsworth exemplifies the “good guy who does bad things” who I want to write, but with some fundamental differences. Wadsworth is not really a good guy. But he’s not really a bad guy, either. He is caught up in a web of his own making, but one from which he desperately wants to escape. Yet he’s not good; he would be willing to snare innocents in order to protect himself. Bastard. My good guy would not do that; his decency would not permit it. But my guy would slaughter an entire family if he thought they deserved to die for their bad deeds. I know this guy I want to write about. I’ll have to explore his thought processes in more depth.

***

I tire of my trauma. My mental trauma. It’s an ongoing, unnecessary, self-inflicted immersion in a vat of hot water and acid that is neither healing nor necessary. WTF, then? Who knows? I ought to be able to examine emotional drivers by now, considering all the time I’ve spend exploring characters about whom I write. Yet I can only speculate. Maybe I should see a therapist; at least that would add fodder I might be able to use in my fiction. Or my fact.

***

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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2 Responses to Small Talk About Things That Matter

  1. Thanks…I figured I might as well be completely open about it. 😉

  2. Hopester says:

    Love that last bit.

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