06 3 / 2014
“I think you accidentally took my sweatshirt,” James says to me via Skype. He just got home from a work trip. I’m visiting family. I’ll be where he is in three days. “This is not mine,” he shakes his head. We ended up with the same hoodie after a conference we both attended last June. This isn’t a weird kink thing where we buy the same clothes. Though we both own multiple vnecks but that’s a whole other thing.
“I don’t think so?” I say. I look at the sweatshirt to the left of me on the bed. I inspect it. “I think this is mine?”
“This one smells like you,” he’s putting it on so he can slip out to Target. I can see his hair is longer. He hasn’t shaved in a few days. He can see my bangs have been side-swept after a frustrating day of writing. He tells me I look cute today. We’re together and I’m there but I’m not. The internet is magic and scary. Sometimes I think about what would happen if I was from the Puritan era and I was transplanted into now. I wonder how many heart attacks I would have. How many burnings at the stake I’d threaten people with. Goody Montemagno, I dare say you commit crimes against the commandments with your witchcraft and so-called magic mirror video-chat box!
“I don’t think I have your sweatshirt,” I reiterate.
“You can tell where it’s all soft because you sleep in it,” he’s inspecting the sleeves now and adjusting the pull-string. “Also, the pockets were stuffed -and I mean stuffed-“
I cut him off, laughing. I already know.
“I don’t even need to say with what!” he faux shouts.
“They’re clean!” I fight to say through my inane giggling. “Those tissues are all clean!”
“Why do you have so many in your pockets?” he pulls them out and throws them at the camera. I flinch even though there’s no way they can hit me. James laughs now, too.
“I’m so old,” I say.
“You are! You’re a little old lady!”
I catch my breath. James sighs, “I like when our conversations are like this.”
I say, “Me, too.”
04 3 / 2014
1. Don’t think that being published will make you happy. It will for four weeks, if you are lucky. Then it’s the same old fucking shit.
2. Hemingway was fucking wrong. You shouldn’t write drunk. (See my third novel for details.)
3. Hemingway was also right. ‘The first draft of everything is shit.’
4. Never ask a publisher or agent what they are looking for. The best ones, if they are honest, don’t have a fucking clue, because the best books are the ones that seemingly come from nowhere.
5. In five years time the semi-colon is going to be nothing more than a fucking wink.
6. In five years time every fucking person on Twitter will be a writer.
7. Ignore the fucking snobs. Write that space zombie sex opera. Just give it some fucking soul.
8. If it’s not worth fucking reading, it’s not worth fucking writing. If it doesn’t make people laugh or cry or blow their fucking minds then why bother?
9. Don’t be the next Stephen King or the next Zadie Smith or the next Neil Gaiman or the next Jonathan Safran fucking Foer. Be the next fucking you.
10. Stories are fucking easy. PLOT OF EVERY BOOK EVER: Someone is looking for something. COMMERCIAL VERSION: They find it. LITERARY VERSION: They don’t find it. (That’s fucking it.)
11. No-one knows anything. Especially fucking me. Except:
12. Don’t kill off the fucking dog.
13. Oh, yeah, and lastly: write whatever you fucking want."