Friday, October 8, 2010

An Excerpt from my Novel

Well, I bit the bullet and gave a reading at a local bookstore.  Of course, I was filled with dread.  Would anyone even show up?  Well, they did.  Almost all the seats were taken.  Some of the people had already read the book, which was good for discussion.  Others, who had not, bought it after the reading. Of course, I signed them all.

The passage I read starts on p. 15.  The book opened with Barbara's depression, which had resulted in her staying in bed all day for weeks.  Then, she finally went to a psychiatrist.  This excerpt describes what happened the next day.

The next morning, to my  husband's surprise, I crawled out of bed at six o'clock, shoved my feet in beat up old sneakers, pulled a T-shirt over my head and raced out the front door.  I felt a great urge to walk.  Living deep in the country, I had my choice of hacking my way through overgrown woodland trails or walking on paved roads.  That morning, I chose the roads, which were, as usual, quite deserted, with only the occasional car whooshing by.

It was early spring.  The trees were pregnant with buds.  The deep blue of the myrtle was creeping  out of the woods.  The forsythias were showing off their brilliant yellow branche in the first of the real flashy spring hows.  The robins were back, hopping on the lawn, cocking their heads to hear worms in the soil.  Swallows scissored against the blue skies, enjoying the Mayflies no doubt, those thick swarms of nasty little flies that got into your mouth and eyes if you dallied outside in the early evening when the sun was down but it was still light.  They made ealy morning walks and Little League games a torment. When my sons were still children, good mommy that I was, I never missed a practice or a game.  I sat and watched them try to thwack the ball after the interminable waiting for their turns.  My boredom was rofound, my discomfort from biting bugs agonizing.  Still, I never told anybody how I hated Little League.

 As I walked, barely noticing the Jack-in-the Pulpits in bloom at the edges of  the  woods, and the pretty little yellow cinquefoils interspersed amongst the ground foliage, I started to think hard about the past, dredging it up, so I could be an interesting person to keep him, the doctor, interested.  I agonized over what to say. I wished I knew someone who could tell me what actually transpired in psychiatric hours.  I wanted to do it right, be the proper patient.  No. I wanted to be a brillliant, compelling patient, telling the right kinds of stories, asking the right kinds of questions. To give him clues about my ego and my id so he could have the pleasure of unraveling my life for me, if there was anything to unravel, that is. I had to become a great mystery, sprinkliing bits of evidence that he could gather to make me whole.
What can you tell about Barbara from this passage? Is this how patients usually imagine their relationship with their therapist?  After all, he is being paid to hear about her life, whatever it may be, and certainly, he doesn't expect to be entertained with brilliance.  Barbara is not stupid. She, at some level, knows this, so why is she afraid she won't be an interesting patient?  Barbara in the book is a successful career woman.  She has led a life more interesting than a lot of people.  So what does it tell about her that she wants to be a myster, to be brilliant and compelling?  Clearly, she doesn't think she is, or she wouldn't be concerned about it.

What do you think will happen in therapy with Barbara and her psychiatrist?  I promise to publish any and all of your comments if you leave them.  Under the post, you'll see a Post a Comment box.  You don't have to use your real name in a comment if you don't want to.

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