2023-04-04 • pagii saddle-point fiction

(A scene from a book I'm (slowly) working on)

Molly paces around her room, head rattling. The voice in the back of her mind: write, write, write. Fleeting words of poetry gasping for air under torrents of spaghetti brained errand planning and analysis of old social interactions. 'We unchained this earth from the sun', 'we unchained this earth from the sun'-- is this a good start?

No. Absolutely not. We unchained this earth from the sun? Jesus. Sounds like Linkin Park. What does it even mean? She opens a browser and tabs to youtube. Her recommendations:

Your elusive creative genius | Elizabeth Gilbert


Stranger Things 4 | Official Trailer | Netflix

She opens them all in different tabs. 'We unchained this earth from the sun'--, no, no, it's not good enough. There's something I'm missing. Maybe Elizabeth Gilbert knows what it is. I need to brainstorm. Molly is only vaguely aware of the video. Her mind continues rattling. No poetry now, just daydreaming. She imagines herself on stage shouting poetry to a massive crowd. But she can't hear the poem she's reciting. She only has a sense of a certain rhythm in her mouth movements, and a certain emotion in the body. Ance once she finishes her recitation, there's a beautiful pause, and the crowd roars, and she hears the applauding vividly, some of the audience are in tears, and she walks off stage and is swarmed by publishers and agents: 'Wow! That was fantastic! Absolutely fantastic! Who are you? Do you have an agent yet?' she smiles, nobly pleasant but aloof: 'Thank you, but I'm not looking for one at the moment.'

Her attention returns to Elizabeth Gilbert. The video goes on: "the question becomes how... I need to find a way to have some safe distance between me and my very natural anxiety about what the reaction to that writing will be..."

Brilliant, yes, this is what she needed to hear. She needs to take her ego out of this. She needs to just do the work like a monk would: sober, quiet, serious, uncaring of the outcome, possessed by the craft. 'We unchained this earth from the sun'-- it pops in her head again. She dodges, back into her daydream. One of the dream-publishers says he's listened to her first album, the one on bandcamp. She's surprised, it only has a few thousand plays. She crystalizes the details of his face in her mind: a grounded, neutral expression. He looks deeply at her, thin lips slightly parted, sharp jaw but not too sharp, blue eyes, stubble. He talks cooly, without strain, and yet she can hear his sweet voice so clearly through the noise. It's as if they were aimed right at her, and her ears were tuned only for them.

Elizabeth Gilbert: "Socrates believed he had a daimon that spoke wisdom to him from afar, Romans had the same idea, but they called that sort of disembodied creative spirit, a genius..."

God, what am I doing? I don't need advice. I need to write something. She pushes the man out of her head, closes Gilbert, revealing the next tab: THIS GIANT KEBAB IS NOT MADE FROM MEAT 🤯 . Molly wants food, but isn't hungry. Her head is still rattling. Maybe she's hungry and doesn't know it. Maybe she's dissociated from her hunger signals. Like what happens to anorexics. Sometimes she suspects she a little bit anorexic. Some subconscious trauma or other. Maybe from middle school. She needs to sit down and take a hard look at her past. Maybe start therapy again. Anyway, food. Sometimes she eats when she's not hungry and she feels better. Does she eat, or no? She opens a new tab: "how do you know whether you're hungry?" Three hundred and twenty eight million results.

Gaz Oakley: " whole crew is here, it was just my birthday, I am happy and content in my new surroundings in Wales, in the country-side... today we're going to be making this incredible mushroom meat-shwarma, flatbread..."

She imagines herself pinching spices out of cute ceramic spice bowls, each with it's own pattern. She imagines daintily spreading paprika over her oyster mushrooms, sauteeing in a thick cast iron pan. She needed cast iron. That was key. Her cooking was missing that... that "heartiness"-- the heartiness that cast iron would provide. How much is a cast iron pan? She checks Amazon: Utopia Kitchen, $25. Not bad at all. She could get one right now. But the reviews say that it's a hassle to take care of. Is she really going to season this pan every time she cooks? No, it'll rot and rust in her kitchen. Hold on. What is this negative attitude? Of course she'll season her pan! She can and she will. The cast iron pan will mark a new stage of her life. Where she takes dutiful care of expensive cookware, and chops fresh garlic and onions instead of using the powdered seasoning mix, curates artisinal spices in matching mason jars. It'll be good for her. She continues reading cast iron pan reviews. So many people are so overjoyed by this cast iron pan, writing paragraphs and paragraphs-- more than she's written in weeks-- about their personal cast iron pan strategies, tips and tricks, baking and seasoning secrets, pictures of corn bread from 5 different angles. Kebabs sizzle in the backgrounded tab. She walks to her kitchen, and looks at her stainless steel pan with disgust. She opens the fridge. No mushrooms, half a bell pepper, some kale, leftover thai food. She forgot about the leftovers. They smell good, but she isn't hungry enough. She'll eat it tomorrow. But will they go bad if she waits? Will she really eat it tomorrow? She should just eat it now.

NO! NO! She needs to be writing now. She's distracting herself again. She just needs a little something. Maybe a little sugar. Just to get started. She gets a bar chocolate from her pantry. Just one piece, okay? Two squares, 180 calories, eight grams of sugar. Not bad. It's the healthy chocolate, with chicory root fiber, or something. She puts the squares in her mouth. It's good, but a little too sweet.

'We unchained this earth from the sun', again the words come. Just sit down and write! Just sit down and write! You said you would start after this chocolate! The chocolate in her mouth is gone. She doesn't recollect swallowing, or even chewing, really. She missed out on all the flavor. Let's just do one more. She'll pay attention this time. She needs to fully chew and savor and digest this chocolate. She knows it'll help. She breaks off two more squares. Her stainless steel pan catches her eye again. It looks feeble. Modern. Hollow. She swallows the chocolate without savoring. 360 calories. 16 grams of sugar. One more try. She puts a third piece in her mouth and walks over to her desk.

'We unchained this earth'-- it hits her head again. She scrolls through cast iron pan reviews, then interrupts herself-- closes Amazon, closes the Stranger Things trailer, closes the kebab video. It's time. No more fucking around. She checks her phone, just to make sure no one will disturb her writing. Zero notifications. Really? That can't be right. Maybe her connection is bad. She opens instagram as a test. Sure enough, there's an unread message and two follow requests. Knew it. Why am I not getting notifications? I'll investigate later. She opens the message. Some guy from high school laugh reacted to her story. She opens his profile: 214 followers, 729 following, 522 photos. Lots of low-res, poorly framed pictures of him standing in popular hiking spots around Maryland. He wears baseball hats, sometimes backwards. Stop wasting your time! Write! Molly puts her phone on airplane mode and rubs her eyes.