Sunday, July 1, 2012

Smile, for Fuck's Sake

My psychiatrist had a great line: “The cure for self-pity is gratitude.”

Of course, understanding the sentiment is easy. There was a Drake and Rihanna song a couple years ago that said the same shit. (“Just live ya’ life?” It might’ve been Wiz Khalifa or Flo Rida or some other rapper du jour.)

The point is, it’s a simple sentiment to grasp the meaning of, but acting accordingly is the hard part.

I bring it up this month because the end of the school year was particularly stressful. I definitely drifted into the self-pity camp. Actually I set up a lounge chair and grumbled my way through most of June.

Part of it was a natural let-down. May had my wedding and my first author reading – and author events always mean getting to congregate with similarly crazy writer types. I love my town, Harrison, for its cheap dive bars and completely unpretentious personality, but there just aren’t a lot of other writers, or even a lot of creative types here. In May I got a taste of the life I want, the one I’m aspiring toward – that exciting and rewarding life, that creative life.

June… June was final exams and those child care days that follow final exams. June was prepping for my summer camp job on my weekends. June was working like a dog to keep the air conditioning on. Not a lot of writing in June. Not what you’d call an inspiring atmosphere.

Yeah, I got grouchy there.

But whether it’s depressive heading back toward manic or just the fact that I’m finally down to one full-time job again, I don’t feel very shitty at all about July. In fact, the summer camp environment is inspiring. The people I work with are inspirational, positive. A lot of them are college students, about to enter an economy ravaged by de-unionization and thirty years of trickle-down horseshit economics (negative, yes, but also researched) but they don’t bitch that much at all. They pursue their dreams. They are comics, coaches, artists, and actors. They work and study; they party and date. They reach for the life they want while enjoying the life they have.

They’re a great reminder to aspire towards gratitude, away from self-pity. I need to remind myself to stop being a walking menstrual cycle and just work my days and write my stories by night for another seven weeks.

After that, I’ll be grateful to have two weeks to really try to polish my novel, “Jesse Rules”, for another run at publication. My writing group this week gave me some excellent suggestions about my flat-soda ending and how to carbonate it. I just took my fantasy novel “War of the Twin Gods: The Fall of Gorge” across the 40,000-word mark (about halfway). My short story collection “Strange Arrangements” is under review from an excellent potential publisher.

So find something to be positive about. The corporate cunts didn’t steal our health care. Justice Roberts temporarily grew his soul back. It’s a dry heat. Your condition is treatable with penicillin.

In that spirit, I’m grateful for the people at work who wanted to read my published works. Here are the links, including the first collection I’m in that’s on the e-shelf. I don’t get money if anyone purchases the collection, but it will help to keep a great literary festival going:

My story is “Divine Hand”, about an expose reporter who goes undercover at a religious conversion camp for gay teens.

And here are my freebies:

“The Camp Seminole Weiner Wall” (A friendship is tested by a sexually cruel camp ritual.)

“Friends and Pyromaniacs” (A young man’s awakening requires a Molotov cocktail.)

“The Gay Bomb” (A C.I.A. agent unleashes the ultimate weapon in the war against Islam – a pheromone bomb that causes gay arousal.)

-James Russell


  1. I like that- "the cure for self-pity is gratitude". It is so hard to pull yourself out of the sad & weepy pit- good to see you forge on!

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