Ref: Pages 20 and 21 of the text by Robert Olmstead
1. Think of a condition that affects us, such as melancholy. Find out its claim to fame, its subtlety, its nuance. Come up with a page full of these facts.
2. Describe in a paragraph how a character might live with this affliction.
3. Write a new paragraph that moves away from the lore of your character’s affliction to the personal experiences of it, the day-to-day life.
Sir Stan Dinn, hero of the goblin wars, was known to have fits of despair after a victory, where he’d lock himself away for days at a time. Lady Surname, the famed explorer, after discovering the Bandearg Atoll, had debilitating fits of laughter, followed by gut-wrenching sobs that oscillated for hours. It is said my father Carn Hawthorne had to rescue my mother Beatrice from drowning herself in Lake Dathuil the morning after her coronation. Just so am I subject to wild swings of joy and anguish. My aunt Donni calls it melancholy, I think it may be madness. I fear there is no difference.
I have been shaken awake by guards while in my nightclothes wandering the halls of the castle. There are days when I will not leave my room. I lay cocooned in my bed, shades drawn over the window, pillows pressed over my ears. I wait for an end to it, and I draw each breath through clenched teeth. There are days when I am moved to tears by dew on the grass and thrill at the sound of wind in the leaves and birds on the branches. The smile threatens to tear itself from my face. I wake up tired. I live on peaks or in valleys where the only middle is crossing between.