June 7, 2012

Pretend Writer

Last week I played a game of make-believe. I pretended to be a famous writer. Maybe even a not-so- famous writer. But an important writer nonetheless.

I woke up, frizzed out my hair (as most of the famous writers in my imaginary collection have frizzy hair), put on a pair of jeans, my artsy peasant shirt, and my leather jacket - an outfit that I hoped said creative, yet cool. With laptop in hand, I headed to my favorite coffee shop.

The cafe was bustling with customers looking like their skulls would pop if they didn't get a caffeine fix in the next fifteen seconds. But I walked in casually, smiling at everyone, and offering gratuitous nods to the laptop beneath my arm in case anyone missed it, all the while maintaining a certain level of unreadability. Writers are supposed to be mysterious and I didn't want to let anyone down.

I took a pen out of my purse and slipped it behind my ear. Writers are inundated with brilliant thoughts and I wanted to make sure I could capture mine before they were gone. But brilliant thoughts are fast little demons and most of mine melted away before I even realized I had one. No worries, I thought. The point was to look like I had brilliant thoughts, not to actually have them.

After ordering, I took my bagel and diet coke out to the patio. It wasn't sunny out but a true writer lives on the edge. A few clouds, and a few more sprinkles, wouldn't stop Hemingway! However, they did stop my computer and I had to fold it back up and retreat inside after it froze for the third time. Luckily, no one saw the retreat. They did, however, see me tripping over the chair leg of the nearest table and spraying diet coke on an unsuspecting old lady. I threw an apologetic smile and a wet nap at her and slunk to the other side of the coffee shop, hoping her eyesight wasn't good enough to name me in a lineup.  Waiting the appropriate fifteen minutes for the last cycle of coffee drinkers to saddle out and a new batch to arrive, I ceremoniously opened my laptop and began my heavy pounding of the keys followed by long, intense gazes into nothingness.Passerbys in polka dots and khakis spotted me. One even stopped to talk to me. "What are you doing, young lady?" She asked. "You look very deep in thought." I was secretly thrilled. For one, she had called me young. For another, deep. Double Ching!

"I am writing a book." I announced proudly, wishing I wore spectacles so I looked more literary.

"A book?" She gasped in disbelief. "That's very impressive."

The lady smiled and left my table, thoroughly impressed. I didn't mention that I was actually just looking at pages of the book I had only partially written. Writer's block had hit me a few days before and I was stuck. But why spoil it for her?

An old man sitting at the next table overheard my conversation with the waitress. "Good for you," he said, and his friends around the table nodded in unison. "Too many people your age waste their lives watching TV and playing them video games. I'm proud of you. You are doing something worth while with your life." The other men nodded in agreement and continued to talk about the hope of Generation X.

I had just gotten the approval of the Baby Boomer generation. Some of them may have even served in a war! I glowed, stuffing the TV Guide I had filched from the counter neatly into my purse. The crossword puzzle would have to wait. Yes. I am a writer Maybe I wasn't currently writing anything, but I knew brilliance was in there, lodged somewhere in my brain, waiting to be poured out onto paper.

I let the men know it's time for me to return to my work. After all, important things are going on in my head. I'm just not sure what they are. For the last few days I had thought and thought, trying to figure out something worth writing, and nothing had come. Today, I would at least pretend to do it.

Tap, tap, tap. My fingers hit the keyboard. I started with the word I...and added on. I did this. I saw that. I lived. I breathed. I loved. I cried. I conquered. I submitted. I became master of my own universe. On paper at least. Words and whole thoughts began to appear on the computer screen. And they were...good. I wasn't sure what had shifted but as I pretended to write I really did write, spilling out my hopes, my dreams, and my thoughts (some of them almost brilliant) into the next chapter of my book. Tap. Tap. Tap. I created worlds. I destroyed worlds. That is what I do. Oh glorious day. There is magic when it all comes together, especially when you have no idea how the fuck it happens.

Suddenly, my cell phone rings and it's my husband, asking me to pick up hand soap and toilet paper. Fast. I fold my laptop and put it in it's carrying case, wondering if Emily Bronte would have written such an amazing love story if she had ever been married?

And of course, accidentally knock the rest of my diet coke onto the ground, splattering the old man who had so kindly inspired me. I offered him an apologetic smile and my last wet nap, trying to maintain an ounce of dignity as I dab the bald spot on the top of his head.

The old men smile and murmur to each other, nodding as the representative of Generation X trips over her shoelaces and bolts out the door.

My husband texts as I get into the car. "Can you grab me a coffee before you leave." I look through the window and see the old men watching me and decide to go the Starbucks down the street instead.

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