Pretending To Be A Writer
She sits in her kitchen, waiting for the oven to preheat so she can bake the bread. The bread is the only thing on her mind right now because that’s all she’s allowing her brain to focus on. There is a very large glass of wine at her side, and, actually, she’s thinking about that too.
She shouldn’t be as drunk as she is, at 2:30 in the afternoon, but what can she say? It’s Mother’s Day, and has yet to be wished a Happy Mother’s Day by any member of her immediate family.
Happy Mother’s Day to me, she thinks while slurping some more wine.
She doesn’t want sympathy.
She’s just a little sad, okay.
That’s a valid emotion to have at the moment. Or, maybe she is searching for sympathy. She can’t tell; the wine is fogging everything up right now and turning her thoughts sideways.
The heat of the oven warms her goosepimpled skin as she places the two pans of multigrain on the middle rack.
Back at the table, she opens up her laptop and tries to think of something to write. Nothing doing. So she takes a selfie with her very large glass of wine, reckons she looks halfway cute and posts it to Facebook. She wants someone, anyone, to see her today.
Jesus. She isn’t this type of person. She doesn’t need to look for validation in a tiny blue thumbs up button. She’s 36 for chri — wait. Is she 36 or 35?
Why can’t she remember this?
It’s 3 AM, and she’s drinking coffee in the garage so as not to wake the sleeping humans in her house with the clattering of a keyboard. She is a ridiculously loud typer. Her husband teases her about this relentlessly. So sometimes she tries to type quietly, but then her brain gets moving faster than what her light-fingered tapping can handle, and she is forced back to pounding the keys so as not to miss the thoughts racing through her brain.
Clearly, right now, no thoughts are racing through her brain. It’s more like cold molasses up there. This thing you’re reading is some bullshit piece that has absolutely no point. But it’s 3 AM, and she can’t think of anything better to do with this head that won’t shut down.
It’s been happening a lot lately. This waking up in the middle of the night and calling it morning. What’s the point of staring wide awake at a dark ceiling? Why do people do that?
She had to put herself to bed early last night, like 7:30 PM early.
Wine-soaked and sad, she couldn’t be trusted with the keyboard beneath her hands. She checks Facebook. Partly to see how many people have liked the wine-selfie and also to make sure she didn’t write any stupid comments while drunk last night.
Drunk Facebooking — never a good idea.
She discovers quite a few people waiting for replies in her messenger inbox. Most of them are asking questions about writing. How to work out the kinks and find the publishing sweet spot. She does not know why people come to her with these questions, although she loves to chat with anyone about writing. But surely there are so many more competent writers to ask than her. People with better stats and the ability to write something that isn’t just pure foolishness.
She feels like such a fraud when answering, rather, trying to answer their questions. She doesn’t want them to know how insecure and helpless she feels over her own career. She doesn’t want to inadvertently set them down that path so soon after delving in — taking away their eyes that are bright and their tails that are bushy.
Surprisingly enough, she’s not hungover. A few months ago, she had concluded that she’d been drinking far too much since the pandemic hit, so decided to cool it on the booze. Turning into an alcoholic is the last thing she needs right now.
So it surprises her that an entire bottle of wine hasn’t provided, at the very least, a headache. It’s just her heart. It’s pounding like a sonofabitch. The guilt palpitations she always gets after a night (or afternoon) of drinking. Even when there’s nothing to feel guilty about — it’s a constant drumming in the chest cavity, warning her of everything ominous in the world. Maybe the guilt palpitations are to remind her that she’s overreacting and needs to grow up.
Because she does that, she overreacts. She’s an overreacter to the max, probably why she can’t sleep — too busy plotting all the ways she could overreact in the days to come.
It’s 5 AM, and she’s going to have to craft something of value today. This thing isn’t going to cut it. The imaginary clock that she feels in the pit of her stomach each time she thinks about her career is tick-tocking away. She knows that one day, it’s going to crater and then there will be nothing left. So she needs to work hard now to create job security for later, less-productive days.
She digs into the deep and foggy recesses of her imagination, trying to pull out tissue paper fragments of a story. She knows it will come. It’s just a matter of putting aside the insecurity she feels about oversharing and her ability as a writer.
It’s just about piecing all the tiny tidbits together. Making something humdrum look beautiful.
Just as she thinks she’s grasped onto something that might make for a funny humour piece, her phone dings with a Facebook notification. More validation from the halfway cute wine-selfie from last night’s shenanigans.
She ignores the ding and keeps tugging at her tissue paper fragments — knowing all too well that pounding those keys is the only thing that will save her from herself.