Mar 29, 2012

Success or Failure

The things I need to write are: a quiet room with a closed door, a large screen Mac, and small keyboard on my desk. The desk faces the wall and curtains stay closed to shut out the real world. A white noise machine sits close by on the desk in case I need to mask any distractions. Some days my tinnitus screeches louder than usual. Other days (which have become every day), the annoying chirps from hundreds of sparrows nesting in the evergreens outside my window keep me from writing. However, with the push of a button, I can mask it all.

On some mornings the words come out faster than others. After three cups of coffee and a fourth in hand, I enter the story through the screen and stay there, my fingers being the only link between their world and mine. Sentences become pages as I share the great cast of characters who live with me there. I know them well and want to keep us together for as long as possible. My main character fascinates me, speaks to me, and together we set up her story. What if "X" happened? If "X" happened, then what if "X" happened. Over and over, I write the "X's," with her leading the way.

Often, I feel nervous, alone in the room with these new people, worried that I won't be able to tell their story. I sit at my desk and stare at the screen. It looks blurry and too big. Maybe I need glasses. My detachment from the story feels real, and I wonder if my characters have moved on. Have I taken up too much of their time? Has she waved goodbye for good - exited stage left? I hear the sparrows and the ringing in my right ear over the mechanical sounds of ocean waves. The 'ping' of a new text alert sounds from my iPhone in the bedroom.

I turn the noise machine off, and stand up, pulling the curtains apart. The morning opens up to me in a watercolored frame. The gray sky and rain keep me from running outdoors. I glance toward the front yard and see more green poking up from the ground. I can't forget to get mulch from Lowe's before the spring bulbs flower. I close the curtains and sit back down. For a time, I sit with my hands in my lap, looking around the small room. Many piles of books have taken over the space. Too many books for the small corner bookshelf. I begin thumbing through Beloved, a favorite read by Toni Morrison. I wonder if one day my characters will have their special world displayed on many pages between two hard covers. I feel a chill and put the book down.

I reach for my cardagin sweater, another necessity when the air cools and the coffee cup sits empty. Do I keep writing or call it quits? Should I go pour another cup of Starbucks? There are consequences to whatever I decide. If I walk out, will I return again tomorrow morning? Will she speak to me if I leave her now? I hear the text reminder again and swivel my chair toward the closed door. It could be Trini or Julie wanting to do lunch. If they said to meet at noon at Barbacoa, I'd be out of here in a flash. What if there was some news from Diane or Amanda. Possibly something needing my immediate attention. What if "X" happened? I think about my story and am torn between the two worlds. I want them both, and I want to run from them both. I look over my shoulder. The small clock on the computer reads 9:52 a.m. I turn back and realize, with the push of a button I can mask it all. The realization is both exhilarating and terrifying.


  1. It's great to travel from reality to another with a click of a button.It is a gift.

    1. Yes, I agree! How wonderful to be able to escape reality by reading or writing/creating. The more I read, the easier it becomes to see things from different perspectives. Great thing to be able to do.

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