What’s not to love about writing? The process of sitting in front of a computer, starting with an idea knowing not where it will take me, tapping out word after word to somehow form a sentence, is all at once exciting and mysterious, more so as I can’t actually do a lot of the stuff I write about. It’s all about perfecting preaching without practicing it.
Writing, like reading, transports me to another world, a world I’m happy to visit for a short while from the comfort of my bedroom. And despite the many rejections a writer is bound to face, (how I love receiving that letter that wishes me best of luck elsewhere) the joy I get from delving into my imagination and allowing it to take me on a wild ride I’d never go on outside of my mind, spurs me on.
Also, it’s kind of hip to call myself a writer. I imagine it invokes uber-cool images of me seated in a quirky cafe, sipping on latte and gently tapping away, while simultaneously engaging in witty conversation with other intellectuals as myself.
The reality is quite different. No one has to know that I actually spend all day walking around with a crazed look in my eyes as I form sentence after sentence in my head, only to find that when I’m in front of a computer, that paragraph I so magnificently described when taking a shower and naturally had no access to a pen, seems to have vaporised along with the steam.
Another perk of being in this profession is everyone presumes if you’re not famous, as in, if they haven’t heard of you, there’s a high probability you’re the only one reading your writing. You’ve got to prove them wrong even if they’re not, by rattling off names of publications that have published you, even if just once, and act like you’re almost a columnist.
I got very excited when someone said I look like a writer, until I realised it was not a compliment but was in fact an oblique reference to my grey roots. I rushed to the parlour for some long overdue self-pampering. A couple of hours later, I emerged, brand new and shining.
“Ninety-nine thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine,” the lady at the counter informed me with a smile that wiped out my own.
Or something like that.
“I j-just touched up my roots…” my voice fumbled as she pulled the card from my fingers, typed in way too many numbers, and rounded it off to the farthest zero. Everything dinged and whirred, and a moment later she handed me my receipt with a polished smile. The fluorescent light bounced of her gleaming teeth, blinding me.
“Have a nice day!”
I realised if I could not even pay my parlour bills with my writer’s salary, there really was no justice in this world. I’d had it. I considered turning in my pen for the baton. I would become the domestic goddess slash mother with an apron tied permanently around my waist, and my house would always smell of freshly baked goodies. It was going to be fantastic. My husband approved and was very excited at the thought of seeing his wife in the kitchen instead of behind a laptop.
I whipped up a fabulous cake. (Who needs a recipe? I have instincts! Basic ones.) I removed it from the oven, cut up the crater-filled top half, cleverly covered the burnt bits with icing and placed it in front of my husband with a flourish. He took a bite, and his eyes flooded with tears. I thought he was all choked-up with emotion at the deliciousness of it all, but then I realised he was choking on the tooth he broke as he bit down on the ganache.
He swore he didn’t mean a word of what he’d said and would I please forget about cooking and stick to writing?
But I was adamant. I took up singing, which I wrongly assumed I had the knack for. That assumption was set to rest the moment I belted out Speak Softly Love and everyone ran out of the room, not very softly at all.
“That sounded bad, did it?” I asked my husband.
“Terrible,” he sniggered, not one to spare my feelings.
As I kept trying at failing at one experiment after another, one my articles got published. I looked at my name staring back at me from the newspaper, and a thrill ran up my spine. I was hooked. How could I be anything but a writer?
For in the end, I’m just a narcissist. (But an intellectual one).