Deconstructing My Psychosis

So dark are some days that you would rather not write about them at all. The downside of dedicating yourself to writing about every day of your life, as I have done for the past three years, is that there are some days that you would rather not re-live. You struggle to come up with some small snippet of something positive, something you could riff on for a little bit, and sometimes you do succeed in that endeavor, but more often you do not.

I’ve looked at my evaluation more than I should, deconstructed it, analyzed each sentence. When it comes down to it, it’s actually pretty positive. But, as an exercize, I offer the following deconstruction of my psychosis. Here’s the evaluation:

I’m very pleased with Chris’s progress in his novel this semester. He has been producing new pages steadily, despite some interruptions by his outside life, and the novel is assuming a clear and defined shape. His characters have become steadily deeper and more complex, and the plot elements are fitting well together. Chris has also made considerable growth in his writing style, perhaps due to a growing self-confidence in his control of the material. My one recommendation is that he continue to work on his imagery and metaphor. (He has made good progress in reducing an early reliaches on cliches.) I am impressed with his continuing development as a writer and am sure the novel will attain its considerable potential.

Okay, so, just retyping it I can already see I was a bit crazy to think it a negative review. But, for the sake of my sanity, I’d like to take a moment to analyze some key moments that drove me insane, and why, when I was in a bad mood, they drove me insane.

He has been producing new pages steadily…

This phrase hung in my head, out of context, for most of Wednesday night into Thursday morning, as I tossed and turned in bed. Out of context, it read to me like what you’d tell a writer who was trying really hard but didn’t have much potential, someone you wanted to commend for the effort, if not for the skill.

In context, it’s an extremely powerful statement. My reader is showing an empathy that my last reader did not, and admiring the fact that I was able to work steadily despite job troubles, the stress of moving into a new home, and all that. He’s a writer who’s been through the life and he’s admiring me for getting through it as well.

His characters have become steadily deeper and more complex…

Initially, I found this to be an indictment of my ability to write convincing characters, that while my characters were becoming “steadily deeper and more complex” they were still not quite there yet, that they still, for lack of a better word, sucked.

Looking at it with fresh eyes, I can see that it’s another compliment, that he’s saying my characters were pretty good to begin with, but they have been getting better as I’ve been progressing with the novel, as I’ve “made considerable growth in his writing style”.

So, I’m crazy. A guy who’s latest work was one of the New York Times’ 100 Notable Books of the Year for 2004 tells me that he thinks my novel has “considerable potential” and I think that’s bad?