Month: January 2016

Dear Writers

As a writer, an artist, surely you must know what discouragement is. What differentiates us from other discouraged artists however, is that people don’t just remind us how unlikely it is to go anywhere in life or to make a living. We’re also reminded that the very thing we love is dying! “People simply don’t read anymore! Attention spans are dwindling as we speak! Montages are cut to strings of .5 second shots! No! One! Wants! To! Read!”

They’re not saying you can’t do it because you’re not good enough—that would be too easy. All you’d have to do to prove them wrong is to work harder! They’re saying that even if you’re amazing at what you do, you’re still going to end up spending your days in a cubical—because no one cares about what you do.

Now I may just be unlucky (which I am reminded of every day) but even the writers I have met, who are fairly established, don’t have anything nice to say. They smile dryly at those of us who are still fresh with passion and batter our already wretched hearts with their harsh reality.

Yes. I know the reality of what I want. I just wanted to hear some encouragement from someone other than my friends who are practically obligated to say, “Lily you’re a great writer! I love reading your stuff! Keep at it!”

I go to school every day surrounded by people taking courses they excel at but have no real passion for. People who know their degrees will get them the car they want, the lifestyle they want, the Justin Bieber front row tickets they want.

People who appear genuinely sorry when they ask the silly girl in their class what an English degree is going to do for her. “English? So you’re gonna be a teacher?”  Which I respond promptly with, “You could do anything with an English degree—go to LAW SCHOOL, get a TEACHING DEGREE, maybe JOURNALISM even!” Emphasize on the LAW SCHOOL and they’ll nod knowingly and let you scurry off to your next class.

(I do plan on doing a double major in Law and English. Why not? I surely enjoy jumping to my own defense, even when I’m wrong. “Sorry professor but here is an online receipt proving I did in fact hand in my essay!” “Yes Lily you did, but you handed it in TO THE WRONG CLASS FOLDER.” Switching from an English Specialist to a Law & English double major was also thanks to the pressure of society, wowza!)

Writing is a lonely job. We all know this. We also know that having someone there to tell us not to throw everything into the wastebasket is crucial. Someone to tell us our words do compel. That we’re not wasting our time. Someone, other than ourselves, who will believe in us. (Refer to Stephen King: On Writing, A Memoir of the Craft.)

If you are a writer, I want you to know that I appreciate what you produce, I don’t want you to ever stop. Don’t ever stop being “a different breed altogether, lonely and resistant re-arrangers of things, anxious malcontents, children afflicted apparently at birth with some presentiment of loss” (thanks for the bio, Joan Didion).

Being on WordPress has really helped me. There are not nearly enough writing communities. I am writing this to remind you that you’re not alone.

It’s hard. It’s so, so hard. I am writing this because I know.

The Pigeon

He took the microfiber cloth to his glasses, rotating his thumb against the lens methodically. There was a slight smudge where his finger had brushed the lens. If he could get that smudge out, he thought, if he could clean the lens, he could clear his mind. He pressed down harder, with surgeon-like precision, determined the excretion was imperative.

The glasses fell to the table, clanging against the desk lamp.

Jon brought two heavy hands up to his face. What was the point?

His words were devoured by an acidic sourness rising within him, a sourness that numbed rather than stung. A few surviving syllables crumbled away into whispers, never quite reaching his lips.

He stared blearily at the contents of his writing desk. At the BIC pen with its chewed blue cap, the USB drive he had copped a few years ago at some college fair, at an empty picture frame he keeps telling himself he would fill in, and his trusty old notebook.

It was torn in all the right places, scrap paper sticking out of every corner, the faded ink on the front cover reading JOURNAL. A writer’s notebook wasn’t just a bundle of pages stamped with all your brightest ideas, it was the writer in book form.

He stared up at the corkboard, rejection slips pinned in a crude display, “Thanks for submitting to us Jon, but this isn’t what we’re looking for.” Letters of the same grating nature laughed mockingly from his email, “We received more submissions than we had been expecting, if you weren’t selected please try again next year.”

What was the point of it all?

A bird cooed outside. Jon wanted to hurl himself against a concrete wall, crack his useless skull, mash his brains onto the keyboard. HERE YOU GO HERE YOU FUCKIN’ GO THIS IS ALL I’VE GOT. He wanted to plunge the BIC pen between his ribs and pop his balloon lungs. He wanted to find that cooing bird and pry its beak far enough for the breakfast worms to come squiggling out.

His hands went to his face again, faster this time, fueled by shame.

A flutter of wings woke his curiosity. It was the Cooing Bird. It must be. It heard my thoughts and flew here. I don’t know why. Probably to shit on all my stuff.

It was a pigeon. Fat and grey and disgusting. It peered at Jon with an infectious eye that rested within a ring of crust, clinging to the sill with scabby claws. Jon imagined shooting the pigeon with a hunting rifle. He imagined it bursting in an explosion of green pus.

Jon stared at the pigeon. The pigeon stared back.

Two minutes passed. Four. Six.

Six whole minutes and neither made a move.

The couple upstairs were arguing about whether or not they should order a set of pots online. “Em we don’t even need pots!” “But honey they’re ON SALE!”

“You’re a messenger,” Jon spoke at last, “you are aren’t you?”

The pigeon remained motionless.

“Stop looking at me like that. If you have something to say go ahead and say it. Stop staring.”

Nothing.

“Help me out here. I…I don’t know what to do.”

The pigeon shit.

Jon examined the pigeon with what he felt to be a scientific eye, but if the little girl playing hopscotch on the street had happened to look up into that second story window she would have gone home that night and told her mother about the crazy writer who lived upstairs. “Cariño,” her mother would have said, “you stay away from that man, sí?”

Jon lunged at the pigeon.

Weighed down by years of city crumbs, the pigeon struggled to lift its wings. They were crutches for a four hundred pound man, takeoff was unsuccessful. Horrified to find itself encased behind the bars of Breadman’s arms, it began to shit everywhere.

With much effort, Jon hauled the flailing pigeon to his writing desk. YOU NEVER SHOULD HAVE COME HERE, he roared in his mind, THIS IS THE LION’S DEN. With one hand still wrenching back its wings, he reached for his BIC pen. LET’S HEAR THOSE BALLOONS POP!

The couple upstairs had finally settled on buying the pots—they were, after all, ON SALE.

With a final stroke of determination, the pigeon broke free from Jon’s grasp. It knocked over the desk lamp, spilled a cup of stale coffee, and hurtled out the open window. New Yorkers, it thought, they were all crazy.

Jon sat in stunned silence.

I tried to stab a pigeon with a ballpoint pen

He looked down at his notebook, which was covered in feathers and drying bird crap, and began to laugh. He laughed so hard he started to wheeze, tears streaming down his blotched face.

It was him in book form alright.

Upstairs, Em and her husband discovered the pot set they wanted was sold out.

Alright. All-fucking-right.

A Look Back on 2015

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2015 was a year of accomplishments, of chocolates rewarded proudly rather than snuck upstairs in the dead of night with shame hot on my heels. I created, with an aesthetic inspired by Tumblr, a wonderful yearbook (with MY WORDS in it). I was voted for and gave a valedictorian speech, which strikes me as incredibly odd because I often forget I exist (sometimes when I walk past a mirror I get quite the shock—what is THAT?) I started university, went to frosh week, built a snowman that looks like Nicholas Cage in the dark, and many other things I’d rather forget than list.

I also discovered my new favourite defense mechanism, disassociation! It does a great job at repelling anxiety! Ha! Ha ha! (@#%* you anxiety)

The new year is always a good time, but it’s also an anxious time. I’m worried that I won’t end 2016 with as many accomplishments to list (surely I can never build a snowman as Cage-like).

To make myself feel better I developed this extremely childish analogy:

I know for a fact that 2016 won’t end in fireworks and a big red bow the way 2015 did, but that’s only because 2016 is the next STAGE. Only After a few years/levels of this STAGE can I fight the BOSS and come away with the trophy— Not the greatest analogy but I think it’s #relatable

Even if I come out of 2016 with nothing to show I’ll still be a new and improved me. I’ll still have a bigger vocabulary, a more functional mind (hopefully), and a bigger book of ideas.

It’s about accumulation, about growth.

We just need to give ourselves some time. We are constantly improving, before you know it, you’ll have experienced enough to write that book you’ve always been dying to write… (this is me reassuring myself).

Happy new year everyone, all five of you reading this.