“Another burning couch day.”
Some of you may recognize this odd little quip. It appeared in the novella, “Trust,” part of The Remaining series. Major Abe Darabie used it to describe the hopelessness that he felt in the impossible position that he found himself in.
What you probably don’t know, is that I didn’t come up with this description of futility while writing “Trust.” This was actually a phrase that I had used with an old partner while I was a cop. I used it to describe those days that you knew were going to be bad, but you also knew you couldn’t do anything about it.
Think about it.
You’re trapped under a burning couch.
Is there a better description for feeling claustrophobically locked into a course of action that you do not want to take? I contend that there is not.
Okay, confession time.
I didn’t come up with this.
You know who did?
Scott Adams, the creator of the comic strip “Dilbert.”
A reference to that comic strip is used in “Trust”—give credit where credit is due.
I’m sure you’re all disappointed that it didn’t come from some literary giant like Hemingway or Heller. But cut me some slack, I liked that comic strip. And you can find insight in the strangest of places.
So, what the hell does this have to do with you writing?
I’m so glad you asked.
It has everything to do with you writing.
Because there is an itch that gets scratched in the human soul when you are able to succinctly and with supreme accuracy strike right to the heart of a particular feeling. It’s the satisfaction of capturing something elusive, like catching a lightning bug in a jar.
Writing scratches that itch.
Writing is the jar with which you go lightning bug-hunting.
Whether you write a blog, a journal, articles, essays, or stories, capturing the essence of a point or a feeling or a way that you see the world—it soothes a frustration in the human mind that seems to fester when you just can’t quite put your finger on it.
But here’s the caveat: expressing yourself is a muscle. You have to exercise it.
When I decided to refer to those shitty days as “Burning Couch Days,” I was already deep into writing, and several books into The Remaining series. I had gotten into the habit of constantly searching for similes and metaphors with which to make sense of the insanity of my life.
I’d capture them like lightning bugs and put them on a page.
So even if you have no intention of ever allowing anyone else to see what you write, whether you write them on a computer, or jot them down on a sticky note, there is an indescribable satisfaction to expressing yourself, and the more you do it, the easier it will be.
It’s not indescribable.
It’s like the first sip of an ice-cold beer after you’ve had a “Burning Couch Day.”