Aspiring writer? Keep telling yourself that if it helps you sleep at night

I’d known her all my life and I knew that she couldn’t write to save her own life. Not if someone held a gun to her head. Mind you, it wasn’t for lack of words. Nelly simply had too much nervous energy to let two words fuse into a phrase. She even talked with a stutter.

She’d been my friend since childhood. My family was new in town, and being a little shy, I cowered behind the living room curtains and peeked at the wild, noisy bunch of children playing on the pavement outside. I wished I could walk up and join them , but it wasn’t my style. Even at that age, I was the calm, distanced person that I still am today. I guess it’s true what Adam says – people don’t change.

I was almost relieved when one day, on my way back from school, I found the wild crowd outside our house. I stood and watched them until Nelly called out, “Well, come on! Don’t just stand there, join us!” I became Nelly’s tail after that,  and by the time her family moved away, I’d almost charted a map to get through life independently.

When Nelly moved back into town two decades later, she said she was pursuing a writing career – I couldn’t really understand why.  Nelly thought she’d be better able to express her inner feelings, thoughts and desires by letting the characters speak for her.  But sometimes, when she talked about her characters, I felt that her stories were gaining a schizophrenic character of their own. Everything was over the top. Everyone was a super-talented, super-model with super-abilities. The villains were so evil they could have shamed the devil. I watched and prayed that she’d finish just one story.

But yesterday, when Nelly said she wanted to meet over a creative crisis, I realized I couldn’t wait any longer. It was time to summon Adam the merciless.

There she sat, looking forlorn and defeated. Another day of failure had just ended. The page was still blank. She said the funny thing was, there must have been over a hundred loose ideas floating around her head, almost as if they were mocking her, laughing at her. “If only I could take all these fragments and put them together, I’d probably have a complete story,” she lamented.  She nervously nibbled her fingernails; her eyes shifted this way and that, roving ceaselessly over the heads of the restaurant patrons.

If only… I looked to Adam, beseeched him with my eyes, “do something.”

“Listen Nelly, sometimes, the glass is neither half full, nor half empty.  Sometimes, the glass is just empty,” Adam started.

“Huh?”

“This is the deal, you could keep telling yourself you’re an aspiring writer if it helps you sleep at night. But it won’t pay the bills. I mean, have you ever thought of NOT writing for a living?” Message delivered.

I don’t know what reaction I expected, definitely not the small playful smile that tilted Nelly’s mouth at the corners. She agreed with Adam!

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