Today’s Lunch, thinking of yesterday’s, how that kid just sat down in the nook, right across from me. I said “Hello,” hoping to convey my disquietude. Guess I was unsuccessful, as he just sat there, sipped his coffee, read. I left on a moment or two following, only to return to the office to be sent home. This Lit Lunch, after a couple sales, typing in opposition to franticness, rush. Want to write, relax. How I envision mySelf one day subsisting.
Mike touched up a couple of his outstanding short story projects. He found some older writings the previous night, somehow found a way to resculpt them into cogent compositions. So, that made six. He’d stop there. He wasn’t shooting for a novel. Not anymore. He didn’t have the focus for that. Six short stories... Where would he send them? What would Capote do, he thought. The first sip of his second mocha, urgent. He watched the new barista behind the bean bar, trained by one of the vets on how to load the little black energy gravel into the grinder, or whatever machine that was. This new year, a new project. He’d only allow himself three days more, four counting this scene, to build material for submitting. Then he’d start over. Begin something new. Maybe a novel, he thought. No. Extant efforts, only. Ones he could sell, he decreed.
In the nook, where he yesterday wrote, not typed, a young man played the guitar, jammed in front of a girl, who sat uneasily still while he sang, looked down at his finger placement. Mike sipped the mocha; the blend of chocolate milk, espresso and perfectly placed whip. Heavenly harmony, his fingers flew into new. The Wine Bar beats, his hour, which started late because of a last-minute sale. 1:06pm, 42 minutes left in one of his final Literary breaks for his short story accumulation.
Coming back to journal, just note what I see. Jewel, across from me, talking to a guy who reminds me of a young John Lennon, the young female barista at the main bar rushing to complete a drink for a teetering guest, crew behind the bean bar shoveling coffee elements from one side to another, one device to next. Paintings on the wall, mysteriously ominous, entrapping with their shades, strokes. Me, in my usual seat, rushing to complete works I can sell. Sell, sell. What I’m expected to do. So, six shorts. Four of which, only, are rationally ready for an envelope, an address: “Tremolo,” “Sur Me’s,” one still untitled... And this one, “Quited Wine Hide,” whose title I might reblend, redo altogether. Asking mySelf, “What took so long?” Why am I making my Self wait so many clocks for what it wants; the travel, far food, wine, oceans, exploration, the randomness? That won’t help, such dwelling. Forward, with these shorts. Like Joyce, Woolf, Capote, Carver, King.
The kid still plays his guitar in the corner, with his female 1-character audience. Don’t want to take my phones out, as I don’t need to hear. And, I don’t want to. What I do need, want: another taste of my Cabernet, as it summersaults through malolactic.
Mike sat there, listening to his music. He wrote down singular words, just to see what he could do with them. If they’d paint something for a possible seventh short. “Balance...Greet...Stage...” All he could muster. His stories, their laptop docs, closed. The laptop, closed. Earphones, out. He heard. Everything. The awful song played in the corner. Mike wondered, did he think his song moving, amusing, enjoyable? Mike hoped so. He wanted another artist to enjoy his own work. Nothing wrong with that, Mike thought. But did Mike enjoy his? He didn’t know. He didn’t read through it enough. Was he breezing through edits? Probably. Might be the reason he hadn’t sold a piece, yet. Mike read, then.
Stopped. Too many mistakes, to him. Would readers notice? Of course they would. And especially season ones, those for whom he hoped to be writing. He sipped the mocha again. He needed to.
What do I do with these stories? I guess edit them. Or put them away for a couple days. Maybe I should just hop on a plane. Sure I’ll find better material than what’s conveyed by the everyday. Wouldn’t I? If I can sell wine as I do, shouldn’t I be able to sell my writing maniacally? Makes sense to me, when I put the two acts in juxtaposing poses. Another story, needed, I think. It’ll be the stronger of the cuddled collection. Notes:
= Mountain climbing
= Woman on vacation, not wanting to return to work, even though she’s paid better than any of her accompanying friends
= One of them entertains starting a business, on the side, together, just to see what happens ... Disagreement surfaces; optimism, pessimism
= Story about mid-thirties man; musician, not letting go of vision of performing, traveling, surviving from Craft
Mike stopped, in self-decided decline, omit. But then, reengaged, when he saw 1:30p on his laptop clock. Why was time doing this? Bring his lunch to a close? His year. Maybe he should just throw together a novel, see how it comes out. Aesthetic, as he was urged in grad school. “It’ll say something [his novel], just get it done. Worry about coherence later, if at all,” Professor Steve, his Fiction mentor, said to him, right before course’s end. He’d do what he’d always done, then. Just what he thought he was done with, roll the shorts into a larger work. He wanted 301 pages, for some reason. No, a reason quite methodically targeted. Which was, to be one page past 300. He sipped the last mocha cloud, happily. Encouraged, electric, preemptively emphatic. Or should he go by word count? 50,000 words? He’d just write. But he needed a book out. Soon. Sooner. What did he want? Autonomy, Equilibrium. HimSelf on a shelf. He promised he’d read it. Cover to cover. Eventually.