“Write about what you know.”
That’s what the experts say and she did. Not that it earned her a dime. She could count her regular readers on the fingers of both hands and still have fingers left over.
Yet, writing had become as necessary as eating. She bit off morsels of life and let them play across her tongue. Sometimes sweet, sometimes bitter, once she’d begun committing words to a page writing became a life giving habit. She didn’t know how she had survived before the writing. She did know that readers didn’t really matter. Only the writing did.
Ideas for stories often appeared out of no where. Part of her brain was always writing, always struggling to make sense out of a life that had gotten out of control. She struggled with this perception of it. Was life out of control or was she? After all, wasn’t one’s experience confined by one’s perception of it? She couldn’t help wanting so much more.
This was precisely the point at which “writing about what you know” became a curse. She was unhappy with what she knew.
There was no one to blame. She sat desperately writing, trying to avoid the obvious, the real topics that bordered her life like angry armed guards. The flow of her words is interrupted by a call from her son with news of subliminal messages hidden in a popular video game. This was his new obsession.
“Mom, it’s so messed up!” he says while shifting his weight from one leg to the next.
“Yes,” she says. “That is messed up.”
Three more sentences later her husband complains about his morning. “She woke up in a bad mood this morning and started yelling at me.”
He doesn’t know that earlier she heard the other side of the story. The litany of complaint is so familiar. It’s hard to resist. She lets the words flow over her like a bad memory. She doesn’t want to hear them. They are raw and ugly so early in the morning. A sigh escapes her. There is a better way but the fighting for it seems futile.
Has life really been reduced to this? How had she allowed this to happen? No answer magically appears. Maybe there isn’t any. It is only the now that matters but the now hurts.
She searches the view outside the window. A patio table wears a necklace of raindrops. Inside her head words form, “If wishes were horses than beggars would ride.”
She suddenly wishes herself into another place and time. The table sits outside a cafe along the Left Bank in Paris. It’s the 1920s. She is young, thin and pretty. Her chestnut brown hair sits on top of her head in a smart bun. She laughs and the others at the table laugh with her. For a second, the image makes her smile. Freedom and its promise whisper in her ear.
But, this is not what she knows. She knows nothing of Paris, of the Left Bank, of the 1920s, She doubts she really knows anything about freedom except the hunger for it.
She falls head first into a life she no longer wants. Not that her wanting matters. This is what she knows.