I’m thinking about murdering some flying cows. It wouldn’t be hard, at least on the technical side. They’re cows, so they’d just stand there and take it, or maybe they’d chew their cuds and hover a little. But I’d struggle on the emotional side, because they have huge brown eyes, and they’re goofy looking, and they make me giggle.
These are fictional cows. I’ve written them into a story I’m working on, which I guess says a lot about the maturity of the story and my maturity as a person. I just love them. The story isn’t about them, and they don’t show up that much, but when I get to write about them I feel giddy. If you’ve never written about flying cows, I suggest you run right out and try it. It’s better than playing golf while you’re high.
And yet, my friend Dan has a great rule about acting. If something makes you giggle for more than 15 seconds, don’t do it. I believe that applies to writing too. If it entertains me that much, it’s almost certain to aggravate and insult a lot of other people who don’t share my sense of humor. A large proportion of the relatively small number of people likely to read my story would despise my flying cows. My cows might be sad. So instead I should shoot them between the eyes with the Delete key.
I’m now trying to talk myself out of writing a eulogy for my cows, since I have a couple of thousand more words to write before I go to bed tonight. Maybe I can just say that like many things in this life, too much good is bad. A slice of cake is good. A barrel of cake frosting is a heart attack. Flowers from an admirer are good, but a gift-wrapped leather sofa containing a hidden webcam is a restraining order. It’s about perspective and proportion.
“Perspective” is not my middle name. My middle name is “It probably won’t kill us, so let’s pour the green stuff into the pink stuff and see what happens.” I sometimes get into trouble because of that, causing me to tell people things that make them never talk to me again, get locked up in remote places, and have parts of my body mashed off. I was walking out of my psychiatrist’s office once (which sounds like the evil twin of a bad joke), and he shocked me by saying, “Let me know if you start feeling too happy. That’s a bad sign.” That was a hell of a note. But it made sense when I thought about it, because being too happy is bad for me, just like too much sex would be. I can’t think of exactly how it would be bad, but I’m sure it would be.
So, I know what I have to do. The road to mental health and literary excellence seems to be paved with the bodies of flying cows, and it’s slaughtering time. I’ll do it after this next chapter. It contains a flying cow chase scene, and they’re just so cute when their ears stand out like wings and their udders flap in the wind.