I’m not going to write 1667 words. This was a number I cared about at one point. It has a smell to me. It has the faintest whiff of a stranger’s coffee near you, maybe closer to you than your own. Maybe it’s next to your computer and you don’t love how they pick it up and put it down. It’s careless and you worry about it spilling on your machine. You’re trying to write for an arbitrary goal in a mutually agreed-upon location. You don’t know this neighborhood. You don’t know this person. You know they’d never replace your laptop if they ruined it. But what can you do? I type.
I switch from first to second person. It’s annoying and fiddly and wrong and impossible to properly edit later without losing some context. My neck cricks. Your neck cricks now. I know your real name now. It’s me. Of course I’ve heard of him. I’m looking through glass and still see myself, but it’s not me. It’s you. It’s me.
This isn’t anything. You’re practicing typing again. She told you that you can’t be a good writer without reading more. But every time you read fiction, real fiction, your mind wanders to what you could write instead of what you’re reading. This doesn’t happen with the news and blogs and tweets. When I’m doomscrolling twitter, I don’t get creative. I can read hours of blogs and never want to reinterpret the text to suit my own creative flow. But books? Books get splish splashed in.
While half-watching a sitcom, I opened up the library app on my phone and rented out a new Nick Hornby novel. Later, in bed, the seven-day loan syncs the bits to my Kobo, the light and little ePub reader. I read books on my Kobo because the screen is better suited to reading text than any computer display. The loan says I have the book for seven days. It’s a popular book and I got to “skip” the line for a week, but if I don’t finish the book in seven days, the bits disappear and appear on someone else’s account. I hope they’re reading it on some dedicated reading device. But I’m snobby about this. I’m assuming most people read their ebooks as God intended, on a Lenovo PC with a swivel screen running Windows 7 from 2009.
If I want to finish the book, I need to read about 60 pages a day. By page 20, I’ve forgotten any of the characters or what they’re doing. I’ve replaced them with my own imagination. What could I be writing instead? My mind lets ideas escape. I’m laying in bed. The only thing I can hear is one of our two fans spinning. It creates enough white noise to feel relaxed. I’m resting on my right side. My right arm is outstretched under my pillow, bend at the elbow. My right hand acts as the Kobo’s stand. My left hand reaches up and taps the bottom of the screen, telling it to go to the next page. I haven’t really read any of the text on that page, and I won’t read the text on the next page. My eyes lazily glide through them but nothing’s really getting through. But I still tap. I still progress. I’m 4% finished the novel by the time I realize I have no idea what’s happening. I’m a little bit more awake now as I swipe back to the last place where I felt I had the thread. Now, I’m only 3% complete. It is very likely I won’t finish this novel in seven days. It is also unlikely I’ll write down any of the ideas I had. I’m falling asleep, though. At least there’s that.