Thursday, November 20, 2008

Comfort Killing

by Wilfred Bereswill

I’ve been in a sour mood lately. Beside the cold that suddenly crashed down on me last night, there’s the drama of my day job that has been going on for over six months now. Some or all of you know I work as an Environmental Engineer for Anheuser-Busch. Opps, I mean A-B Inbev. The deal is done. I now work for the biggest brewer and the 3rd largest consumer products group in the world. Problem is, I don’t know how long I’ll be working for them. The axe is poised and ready to lop off a large number of employees. The have to eliminate 1 ½ Billion dollars in operating cost over the next three years to pay back some of their debt. YES, that’s BILLION with a “B.” So it may not be a very happy holiday season. Not only that, but every day we hear another rumor and a different date for D-Day. In fact, as I write this, my wife returned from her bible study and informed me that she heard that 800 people will be laid off tomorrow.

I’ll survive. I’m not writing this in a plea for sympathy. The bigger problem is that this six month drama has pretty much sucked the creativity right out of me. I sit in front of the keyboard trying to finish a story I started over a year ago and my mind wanders to how I’m going to make a living and keep my family going. As much as I’d like to dream about it, making a living off my writing is not realistic right now. It won’t pay the mortgage, the car payments, college tuition, the utilities... Well, you get the picture.

So, two nights ago I decided to kill a bunch of people.

Relax. I finally finished a scene I’ve been trying to write for a while. I told myself to just do it. In two nights I wrote 5,000 words. I would have continued tonight, but I had a talk to give to the St. Louis Writers Guild.

The body count isn’t in just yet, but a number of FBI agents and a bunch of bad guys are now statistics. The scene starts with my antagonist trying to sell a deadly virus to a terrorist cell. Bad guys doing business with bad guys. I figured not a lot of trusting goes on there. Would you trust a bunch of terrorists to hand over 5 million dollars for a package that could easily be faked with no real way of verifying the authenticity? I wouldn’t. So it took a lot of thought to figure out how to make this work.

Throwing in the FBI complicates matters even more. You’ll all have to wait to read the finished product, but I’m pretty darned happy with the way this is working out. The next scene will find my Protagonist, FBI Agent Laura Daniels captured by my antagonist and her savior turns out to be a person she’d never expect. Plus a main character may be taking his last breath.

So, I found that killing people can bring me out of a funk. What do you do when you find yourself mired in depressing thoughts?


Tory said...

I think there's a writing equivalent of the Nike, "Just do it!" which is, "Just write it!"

I've been putting off writing my accident scene (describes the horseback riding accident which leaves my heroine paralyzed.) I've written tenish drafts without the scene, but decided I needed it, after all.

I've been obsessing over it for months. I think, like you, I need to create some butt glue and "Just write it." I can always edit it later, right?

Thanks for being an inspiration!

And keep in mind, any job I've been laid off of, something better's come down the pike to replace it. (Not to mention unemployment can be great!) I'm sure the same will be true for you.

Joyce said...

When I lost my job, I started writing a funny mystery. I don't know where it came from, and I didn't even know I could be funny, but it seems to be working.

And Tory's right. Something better will come along for you.

Joyce said...

And killing off certain people in your fiction can be oh-so-cathartic!

Annette said...

Will, I guess having a beer isn't the best solution right now, huh?

Writing has been my therapy for quite some time now. When my dad's health was declining and hard decisions had to be made about our ability (or lack thereof) to keep him at home, my writing was an escape. At the time, my story was set in Las Vegas, where I'd never been. But when life beat me down, I'd say, "I'm going to Vegas." That was code for, I'll be writing, don't bother me.

It definitely helped, although that particular book is in a drawer never to see the light of day. But it was cheap therapy during a dark time.

Hang in there, Will.

By the way, whoever creates these word verification combos is a comic. This time mine is imchic. I'm sitting here in flannel pj's and I'm definitely NOT chic.

Wilfred Bereswill said...

Tory, Joyce and Annette. Thanks for the kind words. I think what makes things worse is that everyone in St. Louis has been on edge. A-B is such a big employer here, everyone seems to know somebody likely to be affected. It's hard to get away from it.

Lately, the only place I've been able to write is a table in the back of the local Starbucks with my iPod sealing me off from the real world.

I've turned the corner on my WIP from that dreaded "Middle" of the manuscript to the end. The middle is the toughest for me. In A Reason For Dying, the last 30,000 came the easiest and that's where I am.

This ending is very different from the one I envisioned when I started writing it, but I think I'm going to really like it.

Oh Annette, you could look chic in overalls.

Annette said...

Will, you silver tongued devil, you.

And believe me, we ALL understand and sympathize with St. Louis. Most of us here are from Pittsburgh. Remember? The FORMER home of the steel industry? Yeah.

luos said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Joyce said...

Okay, someone tell me how the spam comment got through with the squiggly letter thing???

Annette said...

At least it was just ONE spam and not 22 of them.

Dana King said...

First, good luck with the Inbev thing. I was laid off several years ago and I know how it feels. As several have said though, it eventually led me to a much more enjoyable job that also paid better. It's the old "a door closes, a door opens" deal.

As for how I get out of funks that are affecting my writing, I don't worry about the writing. I may take a brief hiatus (no more than a week seems to work for me), and I clear the time to do things I have always enjoyed. For me, it might be to watch more baseball or a few favorite movies. Re-read a book I've enjoyed greatly. (GET SHORTY works for me.) Whatever I need to do to reconnect with some things I know I'll enjoy.

This may sound odd for a 52-year-old man, but going back to visit my parents for a couple of days does it for me sometimes. They still live in the house I grew up in. I go back, watch a little TV with them, maybe cut the grass or help my mother with the dishes. The funk never seems quite so bad after that.

Good luck.

My verification word is "dison" which is, I believe, an American buffalo that shoots crap.

Anonymous said...

Wil -
I have to join the chorus -- there is life after lay-off. I got down-sized out of our local electric utility, where I'd worked for 18+ years, in August 2007. [OK, I took an early retirement, but it was one of those "offer you can't refuse" situations.] I got lucky and had another job immediately -- in fact, my last day at the light company was August 31 and my first at my present job was September 6, and the intervening out-of-work time included a weekend and a holiday! Cross your fingers, contact your connections, dust off your resume -- I wish you the best of luck.
P.S. Sometimes it's better to leave. When I see my former co-workers, they look stressed and miserable. Those of us who were forced out, on the other hand, are always relaxed and smiling.

Gina said...

Oops. I got the disin right but forgot to put my name on. That last anonymous post was from me, Gina.

Wilfred Bereswill said...

Thanks, Dana & Gina.

Dana, sounds like you take time to relax a little. Good advice.