Draft skeletons in my closet

6:30 pm

I’m sitting down to write something. And it’s gonna be the shit.

What to write about? Nonfiction—no that requires a lot of reading, too late to start now. How about a nice story? That’s right. When I get up, I’ll have a novel…that inspires tears…from Hemingway…in a fetal position cursing god for making me more talented. I need characters, plot arcs, story lines, a central theme…

You know that non-fiction idea is looking better and better—the heart wants what it wants.

7:00 pm

What do I begin with? Lesser men choose titles, rough measures of article size—but I’m not a wimp. First, the font. Because the only thing worse than getting kicked in the nuts is writing a treatise on macroeconomics that’s a Nobel shoo-in only to learn that Stockholm despises Helvetica. (Why do you think they bumped me for Krugman?) Too many choices, but I’ll know it when I see it.

7:15 pm

I keep going from Georgia to Courier New to those special typewriter fonts I downloaded from dafont.com and all the way back to Georgia. Times New Roman? What am I, an animal? But I admit that Times New Roman tempts me like Jon Hamm probably does to Ted Haggard. No, I need the right font. Courier New is the best—everything I write looks serious. Like a philosopher who’s finally decided to make metaphysics his bitch.

Or does it? What if I just look pretentious like those people who drink Chardonnay and say things like avant-garde and milieu?

7:45 pm

I imagine myself as a heroic Thomas Jefferson punching declarative statements on a typewriter before realizing that Jefferson died forty years before the typewriter was invented.

So everything he wrote was by hand. How did he get past the first sentence? How come no one crushed his spirit by saying, Your ‘s’ looks like an ‘o’? (Yes, I’m looking at you mom.)

8:00 pm

No, Courier New won’t cut it. Who am I kidding? I routinely end sentences with prepositions, and I recently declared my closet desire to shamelessly split infinitives, and I used ‘who’ instead of ‘whom’ in the previous sentence. I need a non-prescriptivist font, preferably one that doesn’t smell too Victorian. (Not that I know what Victorians smelled like, but I hear they showered sporadically.)

I can’t think straight until the words staring at me look alright. That’s how Christopher Hitchens did it right? May his soul rest in…wait, what?

8:15 pm

Maybe the font is fine, what about the screen brightness? I don’t want it too bright, do I? A soft light that prevents eye-strain without making me squint is what I need. But first, some music. Nothing but the soft gentle stirrings of Adele to boost creativity. Did I say Adele? I meant Metallica, with beer, and a shotgun.

9:15 pm

Alright, so that episode of Breaking Bad was awesome, but I really need to write now. Hell, no way I’d have been this inspired if I’d started typing away without … you know … inspiration. Hey, how about this for a story — a guy with a low-profile life in Smalltown, USA gets cancer and decides to cook meth…no wait…I’m getting close now, the idea is not far away. Come on…

9:30 pm

I can’t be creative on an empty stomach. I need some Chinese. All that stops me from being Tom Wolfe is sesame chicken with pork fried rice. Great, no cash, meaning I have to tell my credit card number to the post-doc at Hunan palace who likes to repeat every digit loudly, his accent disappearing with every number. But he forgets the chicken wings every time.

I guess I’ll resume after dinner.

11:00 pm

That’s it. I’m not getting up until I write something of value. I almost sympathize with people now—how empty and bourgeoisie their sundry lives will seem after reading my outpourings? But should I write now? My mind isn’t the sharpest after bingeing on Chinese. The people deserve better; I’ll start writing tomorrow early morning, fresh. By 8 am, I’ll be emailing the New York Times.

9:00 am

Is Courier New really the right way to go?

If you liked this, you might also like

Sartorial maladies

A good morning

It was sunnier than usual. A deceptive sunlight—a photograph of which would have you reach for your shorts and flip-flops with hands made frictionless by extra layers of sunscreen. But it was one that wouldn’t brook liquid water. Sam sighed as he glanced out the large circular window of his tiny square room in the cramped SoHo apartment. He was sharing it with two others, both of whom had demanding jobs, the stress of which they rebelled against by passionate, amorous wrestling. The floor was hardwood, but with the nails holding the boards generously offering their opinions on foot texture.

He opened the refrigerator and reached for the milk that his roommates kept in the door despite his reproaches about temperature fluctuations and bacterial growth. It was, strangely, in the middle shelf, preserved and ready to lighten his morning coffee. Perhaps one of his roommates’ overnight guests had stumbled on to his blog. What did people do before the internet became fast enough to overcome cognitive drift?

His eyelids had just barely surrendered to the sun, and he realized that his nose was a little slow on the uptake as well. The smell of coffee, not unlike their usual Sumatran, but with a little more body, and maybe a hint of cinnamon, hit him no sooner than five minutes after he entered the room. Smiling, he opened the door to pick up the Times. Waking early usually ensured getting a virgin, rubber-banded paper and the faint almost-escaped smell of ink. Today, all he saw was a bare welcome mat. Apparently, the cost of home-brewed coffee was going to be the trouble of reading news with an iPad balanced on four fingertips and the thumb around the center pole on the uptown 6 train.

He stepped out of the shower with red eyes. Somehow, the post-doctoral fellow in charge of knocking out specific proteins in laboratory mice had not mastered the art of closing his eyes before soaping his face. The roll-on deodorant seemed exhausted, but he rubbed it on anyway, vowing for the third time that week that he would buy some on his way home. He unslung his blue denims from the arm of his chair and put them on. A creature of habit, he sucked in his gut and appraised himself in the mirror. Nodding as if to pump up for one of many monotonous days, he got dressed, queued the audiobook version of Atlas Shrugged on his phone and left for work. He needed a new peacoat; this one felt like it was designed for a thinner man.