The Writer: Chapter 19

Less than six months after I got published, I won the Pulitzer. Actually… I’m just kidding. I sold, well, I really didn’t sell many books.

I know what you’re thinking right now. What a waste of time and energy. But I don’t regret it. The calling is for you to write stories. Good or bad, it doesn’t matter. Success is something that comes as a bonus, if you’re lucky enough.

But still, there were times when I thought that I could have made things differently; I could have tried to write a new book, a better one. But I didn’t. I guess that I had exhausted my patience and courage. Continue reading

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The Writer: Chapter 18

Sometimes I feel that my life is a mixture of clichés and tragedies. I guess that means I should call them tragic clichés.

The truth is, you have to suffer in order to become an artist.

This reminds me of a painter I once knew. He had the custom of writing down hundreds of titles for his paintings. That way he had a base, a starting point for his works. There was something already there, so the canvas never felt empty.

That’s what suffering is for every artist: a starting point. Without tragedy, without pain, art would be something worse than empty.

Beauty inspires, I give you that, but not as much as tragedy and agony. The ones that never got their happily ever after are the ones whose stories we cherish most. Because they resemble us so well. We are flawed and we are, in essence, unhappy.

You might say, and you’d have the right to a condescending tone as well, that I don’t know anything about suffering. And yes, what happened to me to make me consider myself a troubled soul? Only the death of my father and a drug addict shoving a gun down my throat. But is there a precise quantity of suffering required before one considers his life to be terrible? Can pain be measured? Yes, physical pain can, actually, be measured, but… Continue reading

The Writer: Chapter 17

Could you please give me a piece of paper and a pen? A post it would do just fine. I want to write something down. No? Why not? Do you think I can use them as a weapon? Do you think I’m one of those people who can kill another in a thousand different ways?

Then I’ll just read you one of my stories.

Memento Mori

 

It was a hot and dry summer. The harsh air wrapped around clothes and skin, the heat stuck to your lungs, and it was as if an extraordinary force pressed hard against your chest every time you had to breathe.

I wouldn’t have minded the unscrupulous heat if I didn’t have to walk for almost two miles to my father’s apartment. He had moved out the previous spring, and now he lived all by himself, so once a week I would pay him a visit. We would talk for two or three hours about sports and politics and the weather, and he would cook me one of his exquisite steaks.

Every time I had to go see my father I had to pass a cemetery. It didn’t bother me. There was an imposing concrete wall surrounding it on all sides, white crosses covering its mussed surface. I thought the wall was there to offer some privacy to those who were no longer apart of this world, to shelter the dead from the crowded streets and the murmurs of agitation, from the incessant rumble of car engines. Or maybe it was only meant to discourage grave robbers.

Pine trees stood tall on the sidewalk, and it was as if time itself was suspended within the coolness and shade they provided, and a gentle, refreshing miasma rode on the breeze.

It was nothing unpleasant about having to pass a cemetery, nothing terrifying or sad. I could have avoided it, but I never did. It was on the shortest way to my father’s apartment, and I had nothing to worry about. Continue reading

The Writer: Chapter 16

I have this strange custom. Every morning I like to go to the park and sit on the same bench and just gaze at the sun. For as long as I can, until my neck starts aching or my head starts hurting. If someone else is sitting on the bench, I stroll around the park until they leave.
One winter morning, something happened.
A woman was standing in the middle of the frozen lake, her feet struggling to keep her body balanced. It’s been so long since that moment that I forgot what she looked like. But I remember that she had a beautiful smile.
She was in love, that I am sure of.

Continue reading

The Writer: Chapter 15

When I was in high school I used to skip a lot of classes and aimlessly wander through town. Especially if it was sunny outside.

I loved staring at all these strangers, all of them fueled by their little dreams, hurriedly heading God knows where. I loved walking down streets, my soul overwhelmed by sweet surrender, because I knew and I could feel it with my entire being that I was and always will be different than all the strangers that melted together in afternoon crowds.

I would invent stories for each and every one of these strangers. A smile had a story behind it, a lover sending flowers or a gentle kiss. A smile was a memory of times of happiness. And what about those who were sad, who kept their heads down? Well, for them, I created stories that were going to make them happy. And so, I gave a past to those who were happy and a future to those who were sad.

I was the only one stuck in a murky present, the only one who had to kill stories when the strangers disappeared, swallowed by the incessant noise and commotion of the twenty first century. Somehow, and trust me, this hurts when I say it out loud, the world seemed to be distorted in such a poisonous way, and what appeared to be real before my eyes seemed to be but a hopeless prison for my soul. Continue reading

The Writer: Chapter 14

I once wanted to write a romantic story. Something that would involve sun, kisses, and tender embraces, as all romances seem to contain. After a couple of days I came up with a title. “The Portrait of a Lady.” I thought, why not, let’s search the Internet to see if anyone else came up with the same title as I. And figure what. Someone did.

Of course, it’s a famous novel written by Henry James. He obviously typed faster than I did. Pardon my bad humor. I knew who he was, I just didn’t know about that specific work. “The Turn of The Screw” is my favorite. Apropos, what do you think about it? In my humble opinion, it gives you a freedom of choice unparalleled in the world of literature. But you’re not here to talk about books. Let’s face it, reading is one of your least favorite things to do when you walk out of this room. So, let’s cut to the chase.

That book scared the hell out of me. And, trust me, I’m used to handling strange. But this was just… impossible? Is that the right word to describe this? Continue reading

The Writer: Chapter 13

Every morning Sebastian would come out of his improvised office, yawn a couple of times, hand me his notebook, and say, “Do your thing.”

That meant I had to check for spelling mistakes. Oh, and place the occasional comma here and there. Other than that, there was nothing more I could do. Everything he wrote was perfect.

While he slept, I would spend my time in the library, reading books. He had been right. I couldn’t find information about any of the writers or books that were there. But that didn’t stop me from reading them. Some were good; really, really well written. Others, not so much.

But what I found odd was the fact that most of them had the same name for the main female character. Selena. Continue reading