I’ve been told that I’m a really good creative writer, both by peers and adults alike. I don’t quite believe it, but I’ll accept the judgments of others and assume that I do have some skill in that area.
It honestly makes me sad that people like Stephenie Meyer and now EL James are achieving all the fame and glory in the world, whereas I can’t even bring myself to complete one full story. In the eighth grade, I came up with a story idea and pitched it to my best friend at the time. She was immediately hooked and begged me to write it. I told her I’d have it done by the end of the school year. Five years later, she’s still waiting. (She hasn’t forgotten, by the way, and on occasion she hopefully asks, “So whatever happened to that story you were writing?” I then can only sigh and sadly shake my head.)
One of the items on my bucket list is to complete just one novel. It doesn’t even have to be published or even make it onto a bestseller list; it just has to be done. But I can’t make it happen. I sit at the computer, or I pick up pen and paper, and I think, “Today is the day I write a novel.” And then I start. And then I stop. And years pass and my characters are left trapped in my head, begging for liberation. And I leave them there.
I want to get back into creative writing again, and I at least want to flesh out a story from beginning to end, even if it isn’t that novel that I’m seeking to complete just yet. I think, now that I’m starting to build a small community around my blog, I’m going to start pitching ideas and giving out samples of my stuff again. Maybe the feedback will help. Perhaps having a few more people prodding me to write will actually get me to, you know, write. So here you are, my lovelies: a piece of writing that I saved onto my computer that I have no idea what to do with. I got inspired to write it one night and just hacked it out in one sitting, but then my juice ran out, and I haven’t been able to return to it since. (I’m sure my friends have already read this snippet before, but ah well. It’s going back up.)
Even with the sun piercing in spots through the clouds, the day was still nothing more than a bleak Tuesday in January. It could be 11am, or maybe 3pm. James didn’t know. James hadn’t bothered to keep track of time by any means; there was, at this juncture, no real need to. One usually imagined a writer’s desk to be cluttered with scraps of scrawled-upon paper colored with coffee mug stains, but James Wetherington was the exception in that he was very, very organized indeed. Everything was filed into multicolored manila folders: pink for the stories with a female lead; yellow for the sonnets; blue for the fantasy novel he could never really bring himself to finish, nor that he really took seriously; orange for things written on diner napkins; and violet for the second part of that mystery series his editor was demanding he continue. Pens and pencils were neatly lined up on the top of the oak writing table, and his office supplies were so perfectly stocked that one might easily mistake this for a display at Staples. But despite this twenty-something-year-old man’s seemingly uncharacteristic—“By whose standards?” he demanded—penchant for order, it didn’t make him any less of a wordsmith. James Marshall Wetherington was, down the very core of him, a writer.
And, like any serious writer who makes his or her living off making things up and selling them on paper, James Marshall Wetherington was suffering from a bout of what the average person called, “writer’s block,” though James rather preferred the term, “brain death.” Or maybe even just plain, “death.” Because until he could string together enough instances of English language into a feasible work of art that would be convincing enough to be taken up, published, and sold, it would be back to counting down the days until his money from his mediocrely successful novella—Corruption of Love, a blah-de-blah blah-blah story about blah-de-blah-bloo—ran out, and that, in and of itself, would mean going back to waiting tables at some snooty establishment and having to explain to Aunt Mildred at Thanksgiving dinner that he was simply in a rough patch and that, no, pursuing a major in English had not been simply an ungrateful smack in the face to the parents who had financed his collegiate career. But even with the threat of all the aforementioned looming over his head, James Marshall Wetherington could not, for the life of him, come up with even one goddamned limerick.
James, after having sprawled sideways across his twin-sized bed, watching with glazed eyes a Sham-Wow infomercial, finally found the willpower to get up and plant his bare feet on the cold wooden floor beneath. He stretched his arms up as far as he could, listening to the soft crack-crack-crack of the vertebrae in his back as his gray sleepshirt rose and revealed to no one the pallid skin of a sunless introvert. He swung his long arms back down to his sides, rocking back and forth and the balls of his feet, wondering if he should eat or shave or maybe go taking a sludging, trudging walk outside. Not that he wanted to do any of this. Not that he wanted to do anything. After a bit more mindless rocking upon his size eleven feet, he finally took in a big, deep breath of air before yelling out the word,
And for a moment, the word rang out about him. Cigarette. What did it mean? What was its purpose?
Nothing, really. James Marshall Wetherington simply wanted a cigarette. But there was none anywhere near him because James, as it were, was not one for regularly smoking. He had had a small stock of Marlboros tucked in a jacket pocket, and he’d managed to successfully light up three of them; the rest had been imparted to fellow twenty-something men who tended to jitter from the nicotine withdrawals far more than he did. Padding lazily around his room, James somehow found socks and shoes and that big brown canvas jacket that his sister always rolled her eyes at and claimed was the perfect lady-repellant. But enough about that; James grabbed his keys and headed out of his apartment, jogging lightly down the stairs on his way to go spend a little bit more of his Corruption of Love money on something that really wasn’t necessary at all.