Meta or: How I feel after 20,000 words
“I am a pretentious wretch.” he wrote at the top of the white legal pad. He was smiling; nearly giggling at how much he thought himself to be so. “This collection of shit is the longest thing I have ever written.” he wrote after reading an anthology he’d arranged of his own writing.
His second draft was coming along nicely. He thought he’d do something clever and write his rant in the third person. He’d transcribe the rant he wrote about himself no less than two minutes before. He’d dress it up and give commentary on his internal commentary. He looked over his first draft and decided what needed to be rearranged, maybe add something in a little differently so the story had better flow.
“And every word in it isn’t worth a fuck!” he scratched out onto the pad and took a sip of his tea that had gone cold. “It’s all bullshit. I’ve been writing journals, pining over short stories and vignettes…” his real job interrupted him, “… and these conceited fucking two sentence blurbs for years! Literally years! It’s taken me this long to realize that I am a fucking narcissist.” He told a quick joke to the guys as he walked to the bathroom.
“Beautiful woman sits down at the bar and orders a drink, what happens next? The bartender gave it to her.”
“I’d kill to write like Bukowski,” he wrote after returning from his piss break, “but I couldn’t put a period on the end of a sentence the same way old Hank Chinaski could. My prose sounds like a whinier, juvenile Nick Hornby.”
Fuck me, he thought to himself as he rearranged some words from the first draft, “I am nothing to anyone. Nothing to anyone but my wife and my kid. They’re all that matter now.”
It is an interesting story though, he thought as he read over his second draft. He thought about his other writing and he did feel that he genuinely had written a selfish crock of shit, the whole of his best work, the best of everything he could ever churn out was self centered and childish. He thought he was hiding wisdom in the pages, but the fruits hung as if on a barren tree. Bare pulp.
“Everyone had moved on…” he wrote again, “Everyone but Liz.” He flipped over his first draft to the back and kept writing “No one wishes they still had me, except Liz. Nobody wonders the possibilities except me.” He paused momentarily, trying to figure out how to make the next lines work. “I may have hurt someone, I may have been an asshole; it was years ago and people have moved on. No one I knew, fucked or met even cares. Not a single fucking soul. They’re all looking to the future and I am stuck here reliving the past with pen and paper. All for the sake of…”
He started again on a fresh sheet “… this stupid fucking tirade against myself.”
He continued to write. He wanted to purge the feelings he had for the past, shit them out on paper and hope that the pile smeared into something legible. A wonderful quip popped into his head so he decided to add it in. The theme of his writings as a whole was simply emotional masturbation.
“Jesus Christ!” he thought to himself. “Fuck me!”
He ripped out the last page of the witty bit of meta fiction and began to type his final draft.
more by RYAN L. COHAN
Photograph by Mikhail Pavstuyuk