New Craft Essay From Chuck Palahniuk - 'Consider This: Coping'

Photo credit: Yasmina Moya

Good news for you, LitReactors: Starting this year, Chuck Palahniuk has decided to launch a new series of craft essays, the first of which is available today. These essays will have no certain timeline or schedule. We don't know for sure when Chuck will submit them, nor how many there will be. But here's what we can tell you: the essays will be only be available here. For the first month after they post, they will just be available to Premium Members. But one month later, they will be "unlocked" and made available to all, for free. So if you want them right when they post, simply upgrade to a premium membership today. This membership not only grants you full access to all 36 of Chuck's previous craft essays, but also allows you to submit your own writing to our ground-breaking writers workshop.

For now, here's a teaser of Chuck's first new essay "Consider This: Coping." If you want to read the full essay, simply go Premium. If you're already a member, follow the link at the bottom for the complete essay.

Let’s start with a secret about Suzy Vitello.

In her own mind, she’s really three people.  One person is Suzy who exists in the present moment.  Another is the Suzy who existed three days earlier.  The last person is the Suzy who will exist three days in the future.

In any immediate crisis, she can choose to be either the past or the future Suzy.  Three days earlier, the crisis didn’t exist.  Three days from now, the crisis will be lessened or resolved.  This gives her perspective and prevents her from reacting too brashly in the moment.  Stressful events come and go, but Suzy – she reminds herself – is eternal.  Being three people gives her stability.  Like a three-legged stool.  It’s a wonderful coping strategy.

She explained this concept of herself to me decades ago, in the early 1990’s in Tom Spanbauer’s writing workshop.  There, she also just so happened to be writing a novel about a young woman who was subject to schizophrenic episodes where two seemingly alter egos offered her advice.  Twenty years later, her novel is still forthcoming.

Suzy’s coping strategy has always stayed with me.  At this moment I’m at home, trapped by a snowstorm, miles from anyone.  I have enough wood to heat the house for two more days, and the prediction is for warmer weather by then.  Rather than fret about my solitary confinement – without even a dog – I imagine myself three days in either the past or the future.  Three days ago, I was eating lunch with an editor from Dark Horse Comics.  Three days from now I will be at UPS mailing 50 bloody severed (fake) hands to a bookstore in Seattle.

Suzy has given me something that a good book/story should always give to a reader:  A concept… a strategy… a way to cope.

It’s not difficult to imagine that Suzy’s concept led to me creating the Tyler Durden alter ego in Fight Club.  Beyond fractured personalities, let’s consider two other ways in which characters can react to the unbearable crisis of the moment.

Read the full essay here.

Photo credit: Yasmina Moya

Dennis Widmyer

News by Dennis Widmyer

Dennis Widmyer is the founder of ChuckPalahniuk.net, best-selling author Chuck Palahniuk's (Fight Club, Choke) official website.  His passion in life is making movies.  With partner Kevin Kölsch, he founded Parallactic Pictures, a banner for all of their independent film projects.  To date, the duo have directed two features, a number of shorts, and have penned over a dozen screenplays.  He recently co-directed a feature horror film called STARRY EYES for Snowfort Pictures and Dark Sky Films that had its world premiere at the 2014 SXSW film festival.  You can see more of his work at www.parallacticpictures.com. When he's not making movies and working on websites, he enjoys going to the movies, writing, reading, photography, hiking, cats and hanging out with friends.

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Comments

Kari Wolfe's picture
Kari Wolfe from Colorado Springs, CO February 12, 2014 - 1:56pm

Who do I contact if I'm a premium member and the link still doesn't work for me?

Dan J. Fiore's picture
Dan J. Fiore from Pittsburgh is reading too many things at once February 12, 2014 - 3:17pm

Link's not working for me either. 

Nathan Scalia's picture
Nathan Scalia from Kansas is reading so many things February 12, 2014 - 3:41pm

Works fine for me...

Kari Wolfe's picture
Kari Wolfe from Colorado Springs, CO February 12, 2014 - 5:44pm

Nathan, you're like staff, though... Still not working for me and, yes, I'm a member. Paid monthly.

Kirk's picture
Admin
Kirk from Pingree Grove, IL is reading The Book Of The New Sun February 12, 2014 - 9:21pm

Sorry folks, it was an error on our part. Seems someone forgot to actually press the "publish" button. Should be good now.

Kari Wolfe's picture
Kari Wolfe from Colorado Springs, CO February 12, 2014 - 9:44pm

Kirk, you're like my new favorite staff member at the moment :) Thank you for fixing it :)

janine_feel's picture
janine_feel November 17, 2016 - 8:53am

Think it will be useful for me because I am writing essays all the time, as well as, research paper from handmadewritings.com