I scarce can bring myself to greet you, my pupil.
The only reason I am setting out these words is from the profound sense of duty that every pedagogue owes to his most devoted students. In happier times I was renowned for my science-fiction work ‘Fatswhistle and Buchtooth’ – a light-hearted escapade of two heroes who could only ever conquer, written by one who then had a light heart, untouched by the ravages of love and loss.
For now I write to you from the very depths. This is a harsh lesson indeed and comes from one whose name is now sorrow, whose eyes see naught but pain, whose mouth tastes naught but ashes, and whose dreams are filled with tears. But this is no matter. Of such agony truth of writing cometh. Follow me and I shall lead you into a vale of tears from which your writing shall grow emotions of which you never hitherto dreamed.
Lesson 36: The Write Heartbreak
In every story, in every lifetime, in every world, in every universe there is Heartbreak. Even should your compositional endeavours lead you to a place inhabited only by machines and sharply carapaced octopids there will still be unrequited love, or the gutwrench of a failed relationship, or death, or sickness, or the loss of all.
And as writers this is what we must deal with.
We must lift our prose to a plane from which sorrow drips like corrosive acid into the very souls of our readers. We must wring their withers. We must pull from them gouts of snot, bathfuls of tears, and sobs that leave their chests pained and torn.
We must use every adjective and adverb to our name. We must leave no emotional stepping stone untrodden, no hidden corner of sensibility unharrowed, no tiny morsel of love unstamped upon.
If we are to write grief, let us feel grief, let us cry ourselves to sleep as we contemplate the fate of our hapless lovers. Let us understand their hearts as our own breaks with them.
I offer a small sample that you may begin to understand…
It was a suburban garden, offering him little space in which to feel himself alone enough to allow the fullest extent of his misery to crash down around him like a tidal wave of unquenchable sorrow. Seeking solitude, and knowing there was no solace to be had under the unforgiving sun, he had crawled under the spreading leaves of a barren fig tree there to lie in foetal misery, too frozen to cry and too alone to face the world. Who knew how long he had been sunk in his own misery before he felt a gentle hand stroke his hair. Turning, almost not of his own volition, he allowed himself the luxury of another’s embrace. The comfort of a shoulder clad in unromantic and somewhat bobbled and faded wool. He lifted his eyes to the worn and unromantic features of his mother, thinking in some corner of his tired mind that he could not remember the last time he and this woman had shared anything except vague mutual antipathy. She seemed to comprehend his distress though, as she smoothed his hair back from his hectic forehead with gentle fingers.
“Hearts don’t break,” she said softly, “it only feels like they do”.
Until next time.
Whenever that may be…