Wednesday January 1st, 2014

The exercise:

Welcome to 2014! Our writing prompt to begin the year is: the pessimist.

I've mentioned here before that I don't do new year's resolutions, but I don't want to rain on anyone's parade who does go that route. So I won't go into the reasons behind my decision.

Instead, I'd like to invite you guys to share any resolutions you've made for this year, be they writing related or not. Perhaps we can support each other to stick with them. At the very least we can offer words of comfort should any goals fall by the wayside.

I worked a 9 to 4 shift today, both to get some extra cash and because no one else seemed interested in working New Year's Day. I'll be picking up a few extra shifts for the next couple of weeks to cover someone who will be away, so my energies will be focused in that direction for a bit.

After that? Perhaps I can come up with some fun and interesting things to do here on the blog.


The list of pros easily outweighs the list of cons of being a pessimist. Aaron had grown up believing this, and it had become a mantra to be repeated under his breath whenever reality attempted to prove otherwise.

High up on that list of positives was the fact that a cynic is very rarely disappointed. Expect the worse and you'll either be prepared or pleasantly surprised. There's no chance of a letdown. Well, except for those times when the very worst doesn't occur to you until it's too late.

Those are rare occasions though. At least they are for the veteran pessimist.

There are many other reasons to forgo optimism, obviously. One could go on for days. Easily. But for some reason Aaron is not in the mood to do so. His mind is elsewhere. On that list of cons, to be truthful.

His thoughts are revolving around one item in particular: pessimists don't get very many invitations to New Year's Eve parties.


Greg said...

I had forgotten that you don't do new year resolutions! I don't particularly believe in them as a new-year-only thing though, and I tend to update mine monthly as I go through the year, seeing how well I'm doing and where my priorities have changed. It's quite interesting to look back after six months and see what worked and what got abandoned as being "a nice idea" :)
I agree: a cynic and a pessimist are rarely disappointed. But they're equally rarely elated :)
And who needs a New Year's Eve party anyway? ;-)

The pessimist
I walked out of Robert's house appreciating the silence. His wife, with those lovely, elegant legs was bent over the sink, her auburn curls floating on the water, drowned amongst the salad vegetables. Robert was lying on the stairs, a steak knife in his throat. Blood had run down his chest soaking through his shirt and ruining his suit. There was already the hum of tiny flies in the air as they sought out the source of food and the continuation of their life-cycle. The children were still sat at the table, lifeless eyes staring at each other, their hands neatly pinned to the table with the forks they'd been attacking each other with barely an hour earlier.
I knew that it was a bad idea to come round to his house for dinner at such short notice. Some people call me a pessimist for such thoughts, but I'm rarely proven wrong.
I wiped my hands on Robert's silk handkerchief, wondering how it was that blood seemed to find its way everywhere even when it wasn't your own, and dropped it into the trash can. I'd go and look for food somewhere else, but I couldn't say I was optimistic.

Marc said...

Greg - I think that's a much better approach to resolutions than most people take. As it is, I'm fully prepared for the gym to be very busy for the next few weeks before it returns to normal in February.

Oof, that's some grim stuff. I continue to be intrigued by your narrator though.

D Ford said...

Writing is not my New Year's resolution per say. I cannot recall ever seriously writing a resolution at the beginning of the year with a true intent to follow it. I am more like Greg. I make goals as I go along. Some are realistic. Others are not.

My life happens to be experiencing a huge transformation at this time, coincidentally coinciding with the dawn of 2014; and with this change, I have promised myself to get back to my only true life passion, which is of course, writing.

To say I am rusty is a grave understatement. Still I have read the exercises and comments for the year so far, and I feel this group will be a positive, albeit embarrassing, challenge for me. I like the accountability of having others expecting to read my daily writing adventures. Ha. I figure since we are not even yet a week into this year, I will try to catch up on the days I missed.

The Pessimist

All her life others labeled her a pessimist. She crinkled her brow each time she pondered this criticism. Did any of them ever consider the actual meaning of pessimism before carelessly slinging this slander her direction?

I am a realist, she consoled herself. For her the determination lies in the glass half empty/half full question. Clearly the half full answer distinguishes the glorious, head-in-the-clouds optimist. And this is where everyone automatically classifies her as one of tortured, half empty souls without ever asking for her answer, which is that the glass is either both or neither.

If something is half full, than it also has to be half empty. Anyone who gives one of these two answers is choosing to ignore the other one's reality. The other reasonable response is that the glass is entirely full. Maybe half contains water or milk or better yet, wine, but the "empty" half is filled with air.

She sighs. Nobody has ever given her the realist's answer to this question. Others do not even seem to acknowledge realism as an option. With that realization, she does not mind so much being referenced as the pessimist by others. There is always the bright side: at least she has never been called an optimist.

Marc said...

D Ford - welcome to the blog, and my apologies for the lengthy delay in replying to your comment.

Practice is a fine way to work the rust off, and you are most welcome to do that here! I hope we can be of help :)

I am a big fan of the realist approach described here. And yes, absolutely better than being called an optimist.