A question! A veritable question! From someone I don't know! Or at least, from someone I haven't known for that long! At least, not for longer than ten years! Or so.

Your friend has published a novel. It is, of course, terrible. In fact, it's worse than terrible: reading more than one sentence actually makes you nauseous. And now your friend is asking if you've "had a chance to read it yet". What should a good Catastrophyte do?

1) Feel violently jealous and allow yourself to be seized by a devastating sense of personal failure. The book may be execrable, but it is also now published and it is well known that many consumers lack the gag reflex.

2) Good catastrophytes desperately fear conflict of any kind because it will undoubtedly bring about the end of a friendship or, possibly, yelling. So the first response to this situation should be: stalling. You've been busy at work. You've been sick. You've been sick at work. You've really been feeling down. Pull them all out. If your friend persists, and some strong souls will, proceed to 3).

3) Clearly you cannot tell the truth. That would be both foolhardy and brave. And totally unnecessary. If you told the truth, your friendship would obviously either be finished or irrevocably damaged. If you've been passive-aggressively attempting to extricate yourself from this friendship for years, by all means, be honest. But if there's still something to be gained for you from this relationship, there's only one thing you can do: lie.

4) Lie. I cannot say this enough. LIE. Don't compromise your principles entirely; just lie a little bit. Let's try it. I loved your chapter transitions. The font choice was very believable. I always thought you'd be capable of writing such a book. Or, simply gaze at them, clasp your hands together earnestly and make low, keening noises. That can be interpreted in any number of ways.

5) This is yet another truly delicious catastrophizing scenario because it gives rise to a larger question. Why are you friends with someone who writes nauseating prose? How's your prose?

6) What's so beautiful about this is that it will have a lasting impact on you. If you are really convincing when you lie ever so slightly to your friend, you will learn never to believe any compliments paid to you ever again.

Send the Catastrophizer your requests for advice and/or rationalizations using the form conveniently provided HERE. I will publish my responses on the THE CATASTROPHIZER page.

POLITE DISCLAIMER: This site is intended for entertainment purposes only. If you are not entertained, fair enough.

3/2/2010 02:10:01 am

Colleen? I can't wait to hear your low keening noises.


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