Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Just a swallow- the proverbial glass

Today I feel like something out of Harlem Nights!
The scene: Della Reese is the rough talking madam Vera, who works Sugar Ray's (Richard Pryor) brothel. She's standing in the kitchen of Sugar Ray's house making sandwiches, goes to remove the orange juice from the refrigerator and all that's left is a swallow.
Her line: "Benny, you put this orange juice back in here, ain't nothin' left but a swallow!"

And that's my proverbial glass at the moment-- just a swallow. Usually I would say that it's half full, positive energy  to keep it that way. Then just as I'm turning the other cheek, ignoring another negative pitfall, something else occurs or happens to knock a little more juice out the glass.

Now I'm down to a swallow, and I don't have the will or desire today in adding anything else to the glass. My question for writer's: Do you feel like this? Do your characters?

I recently read a book where the protagonist was consistently being treated horribly, in some of the worse ways imaginable. The reasons for the protag's treatment were flighty at best, but somewhat realistic in the world we live. The problem was the story made me angry. It was a little too close to reality, and no matter what the protag did he couldn't fill that glass beyond a swallow.

In reality most characters are written with more than a swallow left in their glass. Who wants to read about someone experiencing horrible luck, with no relief in sight? No one, even I don't (as I pointed out). We want happy endings, a reprieve from the harsh true that the world tends to inflict on it's inhabitants; with more challenges versus successes.

I think it's okay for a character to run around with just a swallow, but not for long. Something has to lift that character's level in the glass, a love interest, a surprising windfall or a miraculous medical procedure that cures them of their ailments. So while I'm down here in Swallow-ville, wondering if things will ever turn around and examining my own thoughts for some truthful reflection, maybe I'll take the time to make sure some of my characters aren't down here with me. If they are then that needs to change...quick!


  1. What a great -- but a little worrying -- metaphor (you OK, sweetie?). I like watching characters wallow in their swallow for awhile (I'm big on angst), but I am indeed one for happier times as well. Except for the occasional tragedy. I do love me an occasional tragedy. But I guess tragedy is the author taking that last swallow for their character and leaving their glass completely empty, eh?

  2. Thanks Phoenix! I'm doing great now. Just a long week. The thought for the post just came to me, and unfortunately sometimes you just have to write the first words out of your mouth.
    Ha! Yes I would agree that a tragedy is leaving the glass completely empty. I look to YA Dystopian's to provide tragedy for me when I'm in the mood.