YOU GUYS, I finished the second draft of my book! I have one more draft to go, but I'm taking a week break from writing because I'm starting to feel a little burnt out. I had some dark moments where I'd pendulum between wanting to delete the whole thing while murmuring "fraud, I'm a fraud" all dramatic like under my breath, and then, an hour later, really liking the story I came up with. Stuff like that makes me understand why artists are described as tortured- like, good God. Haha, so this week is going to be all about relaxing and icing my head- yay!
But as promised, here's the beginning excerpt of my story. I didn't want to put too much on here because I'm not sure how interested you are over it, but here's a small snippet. What the book is about is these long roads to never. Meaning, sometimes you're stuck on a track that, no matter how hard you try to make it otherwise, will keep leading you further and further into nothing. And while that sounds bleak, we're strong and resilient enough- or naive enough- to work around it. It's also about the impact one life can have on another along the way, and how, in the end, we all have places we ache to get to or, worse, go back to again. It's actually pretty funny, though I'm sure you wouldn't guess that, haha. SO, without further ado, the first bit of my first chapter. I hope you like it :)
I looked up at the stars and knew that all the wishes were claimed for, much like a rack of softly flickering candles in a church, all lit and pulsing with intentions. They blinked down at me from their spot in the darkness, reaffirming their favor for someone else. It was a still night that pulsed with a sentiment that was both, at the same time, quiet and loud. A sentiment that came from the mild turmoil of a simple sentence that is comprised of less words than fingers on a hand, “What am I doing?”
The thought was there and it taunted, waiting. I looked around the space that was quiet with shadows and answered it best as I could: I didn’t know. Its silence was like a roar in my ears. The moon outside shone its thin light on the city that quietly slept, straining to spread its light over an array and collection, that together, formed a picture of “same-old-same-olds” and “nothing news”. But as I sat there on my bed, watching the moon’s silver fingers brush against the hard pavement outside, that one worrying thought shivering in my mind, I wished I could be apart of the “nothing news” that were sleeping. Instead, it was all new to me. And newness is troubling.
There were only a few windows glowing dimly in the scene outside, their soft kitchen lights struggling not only against the darkness but the worry that caused them to be switched on. I wondered if the people behind the panes were mulling over the same thoughts as I was, or if they had a whole other mess they needed to sort out. Plagued, I thought. A night like this makes it easy to be plagued with thoughts. It’s a type of night that has a hand in weaving them.
I worried my lip as I glanced at the clock on my night stand, registering that it would be hard to wake up in four hours when I didn’t have anything yet to wake up from. And it wouldn’t help if I was drained and prickly during my job interview tomorrow. And just as the word “interview” passed through my mind my eyebrows knit themselves together and I hugged my pillow to my chest, bringing my knees up to my chin.
And that was the problem, wasn’t it? The reason I couldn’t persuade my eyes to close, no matter how heavy they already were. Tomorrow was my first shot at getting a real nine to fiver, at finally getting a paycheck that wasn’t comprised of scrounged together tips and erratic hours. It wasn’t going to involve words like “graveyard shift” and “last name?” and it was going to require me to shrug into sensible blazers and walk through marbled lobbies. It was supposed to be exciting.
So why did I feel like it was the beginning of the end? After I received the voicemail that briskly asked me to come in for an interview during the allotted time, I felt something sink inside of me. I applied for the job out of practicality, and if I cinched it I felt like the practicality would take over like a weed, choking out any dreams or foolishnesses that still lingered. Castles in the skies would be replaced with responsibility, hope with duty, fancy with level headedness, and sweetness with common sense and reasonableness. It was as if the receptionist’s forcefully chirpy ‘goodbye!’ was like the curtain closing, and at the age of twenty-four I wasn’t sure if I was ready to be forced into early retirement.
I’ve always wanted to be a writer. The realization came to me in the first grade; a little after I learned how to trip over syllables and a little before I realized I could stack them together like toy blocks into chapters and stories. The day I got the confidence to do so was during a mid-afternoon during a mid-week when you couldn’t park on the left side of the street- extraordinary moments had a habit of happening during the most unextroardinary times, didn’t they? We were in the middle of creative hour in Ms. Mollenkamp’s class, an old teacher that had wiry grey hair and a smile as warm as butterscotch and perfume that smelled like fresh dew on grass. She sat us all down at our desks and had us quietly pencil stories onto wide-rule sheets, instructing us to match the pictures in our heads with the words we were armed with. I pieced together stick-like letters, enjoying the scratch of lead on paper as I wrote, trying to catch the story in my head and steer it onto the paper on my desk. The dramatic piece that was unfolding was about an impish ghost that hid in my backpack and ate my donuts, and, to me, it sounded like my generation’s answer to Hemingway. I was finished before the rest of my classmates, and excited, I walked quickly to the teacher’s desk and handed her my handiwork. I remember feeling the zip of anticipation as I watched her eyes move across the page, her lips tugging upwards at the words that were garlanded together into a story. And when she told me she didn’t have enough stickers in her drawers to show me how perfect it was, I felt the arrow hit its target. From right that moment on, with me standing with my hands clasped behind my back, my Mary Janes rocking back and forth on the sunflower printed carpet, words became my life.
And ever since then, I tried to make it into my livelihood. I had notebooks over-crowded with scribbled random thoughts, plot lines, and chapters that were crudely started and abruptly ended, all fighting for space on the lines and homes on the pages. I had started books that were never finished, plots that were played with and discarded, short stories that were submitted but never published, cover letters that were left unanswered, and a slew of memories that involved nothing but white, open word documents, unmarred by words and left terrifyingly- dauntingly- blank. I lived at home while most of my friends and classmates nabbed office jobs and saved up for apartments. I endured hearing about impressive promotions and stewed through house warming parties in condos that looked like pages torn out of magazines. I skipped the steady paychecks (or really, any paychecks all together) so I could instead trip after a love that, at the moment, was sorely and steadfastly unrequited. But like with most relationships where your feelings go unanswered and their affections lie elsewhere, you want them all the more. All the desperately more. My love for words went in vain, and I knew that they didn’t have the same sentiment towards me. I knew they’d never be entirely mine. But, oh, I was willing to suffer sweetly over them. I was willing to live inside the ache’s gentle unhappiness, its inviting misfortune. How could I stop reaching for it?
So instead of joining the ranks of my friends, I, in lieu, decided to sit in coffee shops letting the impatiently blinking vertical bar of my word document taunt me, matching its pulses to the jittery strum of my fingers against the table.
And like most blinded heroines, I was ready to give everything up for this love, but eventually even Katie had to leave Hubbell, Rick walked away from Lisa, Franny knew when it was time to give up on Nick. Sooner or later we all reach our limit. Sooner or later we need to admit that awful defeat. And mine was that writing down words that no one was going to read will eventually land me on food stamps.
That, of course, is why I now found myself sitting in the dark with my arms wrapped around my knees miserably, waiting for the night to switch shifts with the morning. I was gearing up to do the equivalent of Bogart getting on the plane.
It was no wonder I couldn’t sleep. I was heart broken.