Thursday, August 19, 2010
Are you an optimist or a pesimist?
I've never really thought of myself as an optimist, in fact I remember my youth as dark and brooding. But the other day I realized I had turned into a full blown cockeyed optimist. I realized this when I landed at London Heathrow, coming in from France and as we emerged from customs I looked around for someone waiting to meet me. I should point out that nobody in the world knew we were arriving at Heathrow, nor did we have any family and friends within reach of the airport. But I studied that line of expectant faces as I passed, waiting for the one that would break into a smile as it recognized me.
There's an optimist for you!
I also realized that I count the money I get from cash machines in the hope that they'll have given me one bill too many. (Okay I have to confess that I'm also honest in a Girl Scout sickening sort of way, so I'd probably return it) but I count and hope all the same.
You may think the above are absurd, but I know that such miracles have happened and can happen. Once we arrived at San Francisco after a long flight (from Australia, i believe) and I said to John, wouldn't it be lovely if we didn't have to take a shuttle bus and then a taxi to get home. Wouldn't it be lovely if Jane lived a little closer and her car was big enough for us and our luggage as well as two car seats for the little girls. We came out of customs and two excited voices screamed, "Nana!" and there were Meghan and Lizzie rushing toward me, arms open and faces alight with joy. It's still one of the highlights of my life. Jane had taken time off and borrowed a friend's car to meet us.
They have proved in experiments with pigeons that they will keep pecking at an empty feed dish for years if that dish has once dispensed grain to them, in the hope that what happened once will be repeated. If it never dispenses the grain, they will soon give up. So I've had my one feed of grain and I keep pecking.
This optimism, however, is not good for a mystery writer. I realize that noir books are perceived as more meaningful than light stories. The Edgar always goes to such a book. I've tried to write darker, believe me. I've tried to be tormented and literary, but I guess my optimism creeps in. I once complained to my editor that all my reviews called my work "charming and delightful." I told her my next book was going to contain satanism, canibalism and strewn body parts." She laughed and said, "And I bet they'll be delightful body parts too."
Now I've admitted defeat and started on a series that's been described as "a smashing romp." So I can be unashamedly optimistic. I can chuckle and grin to my heart's content as Lady Georgie stumbles her madcap way through life, breaking all the rules as she goes.The next one comes out on Septmember 7th. I once thought about writing a scary vampire plot--after all they do sell rather well, don't they? But my scary plot turned into Royal Blood, which is a vampire story with chuckles. Charming and delightful vampires, actually!
HANK: I hope I'm an optimist. I have a quotation on my bulletin board: "What would you attmept to do if you knew you could not fail?" And I try to live that way. Sometimes, it even works.
And one MUST to be an optimist, because you have no idea what's good or what's bad. Things change so quickly, and evolve, something that seems terrible at the outset will turn out to be wonderful. Right? You know it happens that way.
So to be a pessimist is a waste of time.
Just my thought.
(And complaining about good reviews is just silly, Rhys. Puh-leeze! :-) )
JAN: I'm going to be completely non-committal and say I'm neither. Or both. And advance the theory that its not as simple as all that. I think we're all a bit of both. I have been accused of being Pollyanna from time to time, but I've also regretted being too negative from time to time
But in defense of pessimists -- I have too high a regard for the perfect, sharp, edgy remark to not appreciate an honest, well spoken pessimist.
ROSEMARY: I wake up every morning thinking "Yippee!! Another day!" Sometimes I get shot down by 10am, but then I tell myself "hey, it isn't even 11:00, you have the whole day!" My husband says I bounce back faster than anyone he's ever met, so I would call myself an optimist. Doesn't mean I don't mind if something doesn't work out or someone pisses me off. I just always think there's a Plan B. Like Jan, I love coming up with the perfect, cutting remark. But I rarely deliver it.
Okay, do we have more optimists than pessimists out there?