With the release of my latest romantic thriller, The Deadliest Denial, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the various types of denial in human life. While I was writing the book, I was thinking of denial as the psychological equivalent of a life ring thrown to a drowning person in the face of unendurable pain: the betrayal of a spouse, the death of a loved one, the failure of a beloved child to live up to a parent’s expectations. Sometimes this denial turns into a desperate, self-imposed blindness, occasionally with fatal results.
But fortunately, most denial is more innocuous. Here are some of my personal favorites:
· I am going to clean out my perpetually-cluttered office once this book is turned in. (Bwahahaha! What a riot! Once the book is turned in, I will realize I am unemployed and frantically start work on a new proposal. Or two. Then I’ll do those pesky tasks, like paying bills, restocking the kitchen, and cleaning the bathroom before the health authorities show up. Any time I look at the overwhelming stacks of unfiled papers, I will immediately come up with some pressing self-promotional chore – or check my e-mail for the thousandth time.)
· I am going to walk more as soon as the pollen dies down (or the humidity decreases or the heat tapers off or – rarely – the cold snap ends). I live in the Houston area. Allergens, heat, humidity, mosquitoes, and rare cold snaps come with the territory. If I really want to walk, I’ll deal with it and do it. Daily, just like writing.
· One day, my house will all be clean at the same moment. (This is only happening if a. my mother-in-law, a famous white-glove tester type, is swooping in for a visit or some financial miracle allows me to hire a maid. I’d rather spend my days writing than cleaning something my family won’t allow to stay clean for more than ten minutes. After all, the books, once written, stay written.
· My book’s success is directly correlated to the amount of money and effort I pour into self-promotion. (I’ve mostly decided it has much more to do with the quality of the writing and universal appeal of the story, but I still catch myself panicking over not doing enough on my own. Whatever “enough” is.)
I frequently meet people who struggle with their own brand of denial in the writing department. They tell me:
· I’ll start that book tomorrow.
· I’m going to write as soon as I retire.
· You’re so lucky to have time to write (said resentfully). I have to a. work to support my family, b. raise children, c. tend to my ailing parents (as if those of us who write live in ivory towers with elves who come out at night to handle all the dirty work of life!)
· I’d be published by now, but I haven’t had the same breaks that you have. (This is always uttered by people who fail to complete manuscripts, send out queries, keep up with the marketplace, or do any of those out pesky chores associated with actual selling.)
· The only people who sell are mindless hacks like (insert name of famous, successful author). New York is too afraid to take chances on truly original work like mine. (Usually uttered by someone who’s written a 1,000-page tome on hairy, bisexual Neanderthals teleported to some technologically advanced-planet populated by goop-creatures – or something equally marketable.)
So what’s your favorite denial? And which ones are you most sick of hearing from others? Inquiring minds what to know…