Born Again and Again and Again
BY CAPPY HALL REARICK
“I was standing in the school yard waiting for a child when another mother came up to me. ‘Have you found work yet?’ she asked. ‘Or are you still just writing?’”—Anne Tyler
Aaaaaaack! Whether no one in the free world realizes it or not, writing is work. It is hard work, carved out not in one sitting but in painfully slow creative sentences until finally ‘The End’ is pecked out at the bottom of a page. Only then can a writer smile. Me? I’m usually too tired to manage even that. Digging coal with a pickaxe deep in a West Virginia mine might be tougher than digging ideas out of my head, but ten to one a coal miner sleeps like a rock at night. Me? Not so much.
When the clock strikes three a.m. and it’s blacker than the coal miner’s lungs outside, I am still wide awake wondering about that tenth chapter. Does the transition work, or did I squeeze it out praying for a decent fit? At four a.m., I might be pondering the third verse of a poem, thinking that the rhythm seems to be off, or the metaphor in the fourth line is better suited to a Dr. Seuss book.
In any case, the relief I feel at having finished a piece is short-lived because writing itself never sleeps. No bloody wonder Ann Rice was obsessed with vampires! The light of day brings me little relief because a fresh character appears even before I’ve had my fifth cup of Starbucks. In fact, at this moment, she is strolling into my kitchen wearing a floppy red felt hat and an attitude. Sauntering over to my near empty coffee pot, she drains it into a china cup. Her slurp is so loud it makes the skin crawl on last night’s baked chicken.
Indifferent, she turns in my direction and glares. I’m no rocket scientist, but I detect a challenge in her moves, and it’s pretty easy to figure out what she is expecting from me.
I shake my head; I look away; I take a sip of coffee from my garage sale mug that’s been sitting on the chipped enamel table in front of me. A few minutes go by before my eyes cut over to this person who looks as though her name should be Julia Margaret McKenzie.
She has positioned herself on the kitchen countertop and is swinging her crossed legs while her overly mascaraed eyes stare holes through me. Her singular look commands me to do her bidding, to give her the thing for which she came to my kitchen. But what might that be?
A life. She wants me to give her a life.
But I’m worn out and tired from writing. I don’t want to think about it today. I was too exhausted to eat supper last night, and I hardly slept. I am trusting Calgon to take me away from plot twists and characters. My brain needs a rest from floppy red hat-wearing characters.
“Get lost, Julia Margaret McKenzie!” My voice booms throughout the kitchen but it doesn’t faze Miz Julia Margaret. First she smiles, then she yawns and removes that ludicrous hat of hers, fluffs her bleached hair with bejeweled fingers, and then slurps again from my grandmother’s bone china cup, the thin one you can see through.
I squint my eyes and point an accusing finger at her. “Don’t slurp your coffee like that. Sip it. Like a lady.”
She looks me in the eye, her haughty attitude bulging from the shocking three sizes too small pink sweater she is wearing.
“Make me,” she commands with a smirk.
And those two seductive words are enough to get me to pick up my tired bones and drag them back to the computer where I peck, peck, peck on my keyboard for yet another day.
It ain’t rocket science, folks, but it beats digging coal with a pickaxe.