Fiction about not writing fiction – Vol. 2

// – You can read part one here – //

Delusions of grandeur.

What keeps you going when you’re writing? What makes you spend your precious free time staring at a glaring white page, or agonising over whether to use a more descriptive verb than ‘he said’ this time?

Let me guess – you just have to write to get the words out? Or maybe you’ve wanted to do this since you were a teenager, and since you can’t really think of an alternative it just kind of stuck? Maybe you have a story that just needs to be told, or you’ve already told your story to several people and it would be weird if you didn’t actually write it now?

Eddie Mars had a way of reminding himself why he started writing. It helped him get through the day. He dragged himself out of bed and into the shower and, as he does most days now, he talked to himself.

‘So Eddie, thanks for joining us,’ he muttered, safe in the assumption that if anyone was pressing their ear to the other side of the door they wouldn’t be able to hear his voice above the running water.

‘That’s no problem,’ Eddie responded back to himself.

‘So, I want to talk about your new book, Tale of the umm…  somethingsomething. So where did the idea come from?’

‘Well, Jonathan, it’s a funny story,’ Eddie said, rubbing conditioner into his hair. ‘I was lucky enough to get my first big break with Clarkesworld. They published a short story of mine, Neil Gaiman retweeted it, and, well’ he paused to smile, for effect, ‘it all just took off from there.’

Eddie paused, and revelled in the giddy swoon his daydream produced. This feeling of expectation, and the drive to be someone who affected others through the simple act of stringing words together – this is how he knew he wanted to be a writer.

Eddie didn’t have time to write anything before work that day, and at lunch he opted to stretch his legs in the park rather than get a chapter in, but the conversation that morning had inspired a feeling of importance that lingered throughout the day. Pride in the intention, belief in the artistic value, and identity in the daydream; those are what make up a writer. Written words are simply physical evidence, we get around to them.

When he returned home he rushed up to his room, turned on his laptop, and sat himself in front of his mirror to practice his Hugo Award acceptance speech.

And I know what you’re thinking. Cart before the horse and all that. But you try working 9-5 in a job you don’t like, and come home and be ready to simply produce. Writing is time-consuming and difficult, and sometimes-

‘I read somewhere that Jack Kerouac wrote his novels during his lunch breaks.’

That voice again – Eddie kicked the mirror with a start and just caught it before it swung down on his head.

‘Hello?’ he asked, hands shaking as he replaced the mirror against the wall. ‘That’s not funny.’

There was no response, and Eddie was afraid to speak again. He looked at his own reflection and saw a pair of wide, watery eyes, irises ringing by too much white. He sat there for a few moments, sharing a moment of mutual confusion with his mirror-self, until enough time had passed to forget the immediacy of the voice and rationalise it again as an unfortunate collision of personality and environmental factors. The pipes are squeaking. The house is settling. I’ve drunk way too much coffee today.

‘I need to get to work,’ he thought to himself, finally sitting at the desk.

Truer words were never spoken. But really, I like to think that Jack Kerouac spent at least 90% of the time that he wasn’t writing or thinking about writing, thinking about being a writer. You can’t really call it your dream job unless you actually dream about it, right?

My mirror-self agrees.