‘Benny! Stop writing and come here and help me with the chores!’
‘I’m wired in right now,’ I said. ‘Don’t make me lose focus!’
‘Just once I’d like you to stop playing at being a writer and actually do something useful in your life!’ she said.
‘How many times do I have to tell you I’m not playing! Someday these scripts and stories are going to be worth gold! They’ll be auctioning my signature on Amazon for a fortune!’
‘You are unbelievable!’ she yelled at me. ‘When are you going to snap out of that crazy dream of yours and get off your ass!’
‘Judge me to my best abilities,’ I told her.
‘If you had any ability at all, we wouldn’t be forced to living in a trailer park! Why can’t you be like all the other husbands out there and go out and find a normal paying job! It’s bad enough the economy is bombing, you have to embark on wild hallucinations and farcical dreams too!’
I ignored that last comment. After all, I’d been hearing it for 24 years now. 24 years of marriage and 24 years of non-stop whining about the writing. Whining about not being able to do the work or sustain the family. Whining about no income to feed our 3 kids, no paycheck at the end of the month to send them to school or take them to the beach.
I’d heard all that. There are times when I’d hear her shout them all the way from our bedroom, while I spent the entire night on the couch for failing to write a single page.
That was my punishment: coming short in my writing. It was the only thing I would gladly self-inflict on myself. The rest was just empty chatter to me. Even my wife’s tears ceased to have an effect on this old rotten heart.
Sure I loved her, and I loved the kids, but sometimes when I was alone I couldn’t help but think of the alternative life I could be living: what if I’d made it and became a famous writer? What if I had followed through and stuck to the girl of my dreams? The girl I met in college and fell madly in love with? The same girl who probably had a family of her own now? What happened to her? What happened to us?
There is an existential problem in this world and it’s called closure. Never being able to see out things fully or the way we like to. Things like going all the way with that girl or not following through with a dream. You take those things and weigh them and they appear equal. But in reality they are completely different.
You see, that girl I lost is gone forever. I’ll never be able to get her back. Just like I’m stuck in the alcohol rut and use the little money I garner from licking some big-shot editor’s ass every once in a while to buy a cheap bottle of booze instead of saving to pay off our bills.
But the writing is different. I still think I possess some control over it. I can feel it tickling me in my sleep sometimes. The words are there and they want to get out. They want to break out of me, of this small Arab country forgotten at the end of the world. They want to sparkle and fly and sprinkle all over. They want to reach America – all the way to Hollywood to be made into a movie. They want to reach the finest institutions in France to be taught by great thinkers in the best colleges. They want to be reviewed by philosophers who will use them to gain interest in my low-life and be charmed into studying it.
That can happen. That can still happen. But here at home, there are too many distractions. Too much noise, too much worry, too much life going on. My family is the best thing to happen to me. Or, it might’ve been had it not been for the writing occupying my life. Writing an entire clean page is like good sex to me; it’s even better actually. It’s aphrodisiac and hot at the same time. It’s like a freshly-cooked pot of the finest stew served somewhere around the world. Somewhere that would probably be too fancy for me to pronounce and spell.
The wife is always on my case. She doesn’t understand this whole matter – she doesn’t understand that when I reach the top, when I make it to the big leagues, she’ll be the first to benefit from it. Her and the kids. A new life will dawn on us – a better life. A lot of people heavily criticize writing for being outdated, but who can really live without it? There will always be stories to tell and stories worth reading about. The law of nature dictates things work that way. Humans are curious, always looking for what’s happening or what’s happened or even what’s about to happen. And answers to these things, postulates and reminders of them can only be found in the books. Books that I carry with the same fervor as I would a hard-earned hard-to-come-by dollar bill. Or at least I imagine I would have if I was ever able to buy any books.
Luckily some of them were available to me during my younger years and those were enough to convince me of my calling. I was never into war or the military service or selling pot and drugs or leading a life of crime to make it here. Although all of those things are entirely viable options in this corrupted shithole and are guaranteed to grant you a better life than being a miserable writer.
I still get hit by heavy things every once in a while. And no, I’m not referring to the rude realization that I might be stuck at toiling with the word until my last day before I make it; I’m talking about actual physical heavy things. Like a frying pan. Or a large bucket. Or a colander.
My wife usually does all the throwing and hitting whenever she’s infuriated with me and my writing. She even mentions my occasional drinking and adds it to the mix. But she doesn’t understand. She’ll never understand.
It takes something special to be tied to this sort of work. To be rooted deep into this field with the feet firmly planted in its soil. That’s why I think very few make it here. And that’s why they’re all the more famous and renowned.
To tell you the truth, I don’t know what I want to write about yet. I haven’t been possessed or haunted by the same demons and visions as the greats that came before me. I haven’t been inspired like them. But I know there’s something burning up in my chest – I know there’s something there etching to get out. It isn’t an ordinary feeling; it’s a bit of a crazy thing to even be discussing. It’s a maddening emotion that seizes you and wills you to do its bidding.
It’s like a prophecy waiting to happen. And if there were a god or a higher being out there, he’d have to beg me to write some good lines before pulling me out of this dreadful place I’m in.
I know I’ll never have the luxury to dream of a palace where I’ll wake up next to my wife in a suite-like room. I know my kids will never grow up wearing the finest clothes and driving the most expensive cars. I know the closest I could get to a good drunk session is gulping huge amounts of bad araq and smoking shisha in my small trailer. But I can dream of big lines: bold lines crafted on fine paper circulating around the world, being carried and read by packs and packs of people. I think that’s fair and not asking too much.
The wife is at me again. She’s all up on my case and threatening to leave me and take the kids. Well, in times like these I’m glad they’re not the best thing to happen to me.