[The following is an excerpt from Be a Hobbit, Save the Earth. I offer it to you, now, as an example of just how negative our stories can become, and still be rewritten]
The Power of Storytelling: a Negative Example
A young man, 25 years old, lay on a stained futon cushion, ripped and worn on a cold linoleum kitchen floor in a roach-infested apartment.
There was no bed, there was no kitchenette table with cushioned chairs on which to sit and spread butter over so much toast. There was no place to eat second breakfast, or first breakfast. The fridge hummed in the corner; it was mostly empty, maybe a few beers left, a half empty package of Winn Dixie brand bologna.
A few slices of stale bread sat on the counter, in a crumpled plastic bag. There was little else of substance in the room, only the futon, dust, dirt, and cock-roaches, roaches the size of Texas, as tough as leather. Littering the floor were numerous crushed beer cans and empty bottles, a haphazard pile of pizza boxes, a bag of garbage, no garbage can, a sink full of dishes covered in mold.
The man was not unemployed; just underemployed. He had a slave-wage, burger-flipping job at a fast food chain.
In the bathroom, just off the kitchen, over the shower rod, one of his two work shirts—wet from washing in the dirty sink—dripped on the floor, which had not been swept or mopped in months, if ever. The smells of urine, stale beer, and mold pervaded the place. His younger brother was asleep down the hall in the one bedroom, on the one bed. The brother was unemployed and had been for months.
The young man on the kitchen floor had collapsed from despair, from depression, from disillusionment, from a broken heart. The world, which he once believed to be a place of beauty and possibility had disappeared. He had lost his marriage, his self-esteem, his dreams and his hope. In his mind, there was no light there was only darkness. Darkness and the dank kitchen floor and the sweat-stained futon and the roving cock-roaches.
He wept, sobbed silently, so no one would hear and think him weak. He was doubled up in a position he hadn’t been in since the day before he was born. Tears no longer came, just gut-wrenching sobs that left an ache.
Through the sobs, he could hear strains of Pink Floyd, “Is there anybody out there…” echoing down the hall from the front room, also covered in beer cans, bottles and tops, pizza boxes, and cigarette butts. The light fixture on the ceiling was full of beer bottle caps and pull tabs, tossed there in a mindless game. There were so many that they prevented most of the light from escaping, even when the light was on.
But it was off, like the lights of the man’s future. He was utterly alone and in the dark. His essence was fading away, like some Gollum in the deep, dark places of the World. The man could have been any one of a billion souls on this Earth, but he wasn’t. The man was me.