My youngest son has recently discovered the illusory satisfaction of complaint. Actually, the illusory part is still awaiting his acknowledgment, and in the meantime he is happy to explore the limitations of this free and legal drug. “Why so much complaining,” I asked him. “Because it releases the anger,” he explained. Yes, for a moment, and then the anger returns and, like any drug, you must do more to maintain its effect.
I too complain, of course. My most frequent complaint is, “What the hell!” There is no appropriate punctuation mark in the English language with which to end this short burst. It is a question that is not a question, for it expects no answer. Rather, I am registering my dissatisfaction – but with whom? At best, the children scatter and my wife disappears behind a book, leaving me alone to seek a solution to a problem that does not exist.
Sometimes I will take my complaints to the page. This is a wholly unsatisfying experience. Because the questions have no answers, I put them on the page for some unfortunate reader, of whom I am asking, “Can you believe this crap?” Hopefully they do not, and they put aside what I have scratched out in my impatience and disbelief.
Writing needs to be the opposite of complaint, if something that is actually nothing can even have an opposite. Only questions that can be answered are of any use to a writer. Here, my mind holds the questions and the page receives the answers. I ask, What is right that I have called wrong? What is whole that I have called broken? It is a humbling process sometimes, as yesterday’s complaints still echo in my mind. Fortunately, to forgive the past is no different than forgiving a dream, and in that forgiveness I awaken to a world needing no correction.
Write Within Yourself: An Author’s Companion.
“A book to keep nearby whenever your writer’s spirit needs feeding.” Deb Caletti.