Couch to 80k Week 5 Day 2 – Good Grief

Ok, week 5 is – I think in Tim’s words a Psyche Evaluation. Running through emotional strengths and weaknesses and what you – as a writer – find easy and hard. And using those things to write better. (This feels like doing a SWOT analysis – Strength Weakness Opportunities and Threats – on your emotional strengths as a writer)

I find this a bit though. It’s the mixing of real emotions in with fictionalised events that I’m struggling with. I’ve spent most of my life I think boxing away certain emotions so they don’t overwhelm me, and I’ve always been guarded in writing from my heart – I have no problem writing from my brain (which is probably why all of my published writing is really articles on how to do things in computers/art) – but writing from the heart is hard.

Today’s writing exercise was a tough one too, taking one of the emotions we did yesterday and building a free write around that without mentioning the emotion.

What I really want out of this course is the inner strength to sit my ass down and write a comic. I have a handle on a lot of the fundamentals of this, but to really write something true and real I think I need to dip in and not be embarrassed, ashamed, guilty or in any other way afraid to deep dive in to my heart for emotional truths.

I’m not sure I can do that.

Here’s today’s snippet – just remember, these are draft zeros, there’s no editing and I often, frequently, in fact almost always, start with the intent of writing one thing and at some point it changes in to another (these are things that a second, third, fourth draft would resolve mind you, so I’m less worried about them). Anyway. Here it is…


He stood in line. Waiting. In front of him some oldster was attempting to put coins in the machine. The machine that probably hadn’t seen coins in decades. He wanted to tell her to get a move on. But he also wanted her to just live her life without some idiot screaming at her.

He looked down at the ground, and frowned. The ground, a grey slab, in a grey world. Everything was grey. Everything would continue to be grey for some time, he imagined.

The old woman fumbled around, he turned around to look who was behind, some kids. Kissing. Normally he’d be angry, wishing they could keep that stuff private. But he was a changed man now. Nothing was the same and he… Well, he couldn’t find it in his heart to be angry at someone else’s happiness. They’ve probably no sense of how long they’ll ever have together. What was the old woman’s story? Had she found love as a kid too? Was she on her own as he would be?

It’s only been one day. He’d bought a sandwich, but it tasted like ash, so he binned it after a single bite. He should be hungry, but he had no appetite.

He’d woken up that morning and the world was dimmer. He was dimmer. And yet, the day was the day, the world was the world and work was work. He couldn’t just drop everything.

If she’d died he could. If she’d died, suddenly there’d be room for sympathy. People would know. They’d give him time, they’d give him space. They’d let him be.

They wouldn’t expect him to stand in a fucking queue and pay for parking.

But she hadn’t died. It was worse than that. Death at least has closure.

She’d left him, and he couldn’t find a way to change her mind. She’d left him and he couldn’t find a reason for her to stay. She’d left him and he couldn’t find a reason.

So he got up, got dressed, went to work, his insides replaced by an automaton.

“Patrick! Patrick!”

It was his wife.

“Yeah, I’m just getting a ticket.”

“Ok, well, look, I’m going in to the shops, Matilda needs the loo, give us a buzz when you get in, ok?”

“Yeah”.

If she’d died he could’ve mourned her and said she was a friend. He could have let his wife see a fraction of his grief. Not all of it. There’d be no point in destroying that relationship. But enough that he wouldn’t have to fend off questions about why he was being “so bloody mopey

Author: PJ

Belfast based Comic Artist who won’t shut up on twitter.