Life as a Recovering Pessimist: Finding the Silver Lining in Prose by Piper Punches

Life as a Recovering Pessimist: Finding the Silver Lining in Prose

I am a recovering pessimist. Like an alcoholic making a conscious effort each day to avoid starring at the bottom of a glass, as a recovering pessimist I must resist looking at that empty glass, too. Whenever there is an empty glass slammed down on the table in front of me, I must say (with vigor and conviction), "That glass is NOT empty. It is merely filled with imaginary goodness that only I can see." If I falter just one time, it may not be as easy for me to recover again.
It may be difficult to imagine me as a pessimist because like most addicts I am a brilliant liar. My social media pages are never littered with rants and ravings. Instead, they stay positive; never snarky or rude. There are not any unicorns running through fields of red and pink because those only exist when one wears rose-colored glasses. Remember, I'm in recovery, but I am not delusional.
However, sometimes I slip back into my pessimistic ways.  My tendency to embrace the bad before the good can be found in my writing. Writing has always been a way for me to explore the darker side of life. To release negative energy and create characters that, quite frankly, scare me sometimes. In my debut novel, The Waiting Room, there is a particular disturbing scene in which one of the characters commits an irreversible, violent act. Within this scene there is a sentence that reads, "For everything bad there was a sliver of good that could be discovered if she looked hard enough." A reader approached me recently and asked me if I believed this. No matter what the circumstances is there always a glimmer of hope, some salvation?
My old self would say that is impossible. That there are just some acts too brutal, some events too devastating to find hope. But, the writer in me says, maybe. Actually, the writer in me says, "Yes! There must be." Why is this? Is it because everyone wants a happy ending? Maybe, but the truth is if there isn't the possibility that a sliver of good exists then what is the point?
Truly, I do believe there are shards of goodness in nearly every event that touches our lives, even those that leave us questioning our purpose or our direction. Why? Because in life there is balance, yin and yang, without these two opposing forces chaos would endure. I rely on this belief to help me write stories that are raw. So, raw in fact that sometimes it takes a steady hand to pick out those shards of goodness, but they are there. They are gleaming amongst the rubble and the more you find the easier it is to find the silver lining of that character's existence.
It took me many, many years of trudging through past mistakes and failures to understand that these experiences do not have to be tragic forever. Pessimism is one of the easiest emotions we can achieve because it requires very little exertion, whereas optimism and positivity can be a little bitch. It isn't always as willing to show itself to you and you have to work a little harder to find that silver lining.  But, as a recovering pessimist, I urge you to look for it in everything that you do. Because when you are able to find that sliver of good amazing things begin to happen, sending your life in a whole new direction. When that happens I urge you to put one foot in front of the other and follow that path because living life with a pessimistic attitude is highly overrated.

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Book Summary:
Waiting rooms tell stories. They are a medical purgatory. Some sit in the waiting room for hours to be shone the light, graced with blessings (a new baby). For others this is the final holding room before they are delivered into hell, facing uncertainty, despair, sadness, even death.
Dr. Sylvie Day lived a life that few women of her generation could have ever imagined living. Born in rural Missouri in the 1930′s the opportunities presented to her as a woman were minimal, at best. Rooted in rural tradition it would seem that Sylvie would end up married, barefoot, and pregnant by the time she was 18. However, the trajectory of her life took a less assuming route. Instead of being barefoot and pregnant, Sylvie forged her own path breaking down stereotypes to become a beloved midwife and obstetrician in a town that believed women were meant to give birth, not facilitate the process.
When Charlotte receives a note on the day of her mother’s funeral containing a cryptic message, she is confused and intrigued. Charlotte Day knew that waiting rooms told stories, but she never realized that part of her own story resided in this seemingly neutral environment.  But, then again, why should she be surprised? Her mother had secrets. Charlotte knew this.  She just didn’t know how life-altering those secrets could be. . .
A stunning debut novel from Piper Punches tells the story about the complexities of family, the invisible bonds that connect people, and the pain that can reverberate through the choices we make. Told from several points of view the story of Dr. Sylvie Day becomes clearer and clearer with each turn of the page making it quite evident that the secrets we keep aren’t always ours to take to the grave.


  1. Thank you for sharing the background to your novel, Piper. It's wonderful that writing was the silver lining that helped you rise beyond the darkness. Looks like a great novel.


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