I have no sympathy
I have no sympathy
I get an idea every day. Of the three hundred and sixty five I get each year, there’s usually about ten I can use. One day, during October, I got a good idea. As I boarded the bus to campus, it made me smile. People looked and thought he’s happy about I don’t know what. My idea was to write a story within a story. Smiling all the way to campus, I ran over the accolades which my idea would get. ‘An astonishing new talent’ they said. ‘Damn, I wish I wrote that! they wrote. I imagine signing my book. The people clap. Yeah, I wrote it.
I’m happy in my masturbatory thoughts. As Mariana says, ‘all writing is onanistic; we write what we want to read’. My classmate, Julian, gets on at the fifth stop. He sits next to me, smiling also.
‘Alright?’ I say
‘Yeah, came up with a solid idea today’. He replies.
Ha Ha, sure, mate.
‘Yeah?’ I say.
He nods; he whips out his Virginia Gold baccy. He starts rolling a cigarette.
‘It’s just an idea, but I sketched it out, ran it by Mariana, she was well into it’.
‘…what’s the story?’
‘Well’, he says. ‘Like I said, just an idea, but I’m gonna write a story within a story’. He licks his cigarette together, and puts it behind his ear, then crosses his legs.
‘So what you smiling about boyo?’ he asks.
Kill your friends.
Seminar, hangover, YEAH, MATE CLASS IS AT 10, I’LL GO HOME AT 2. AT 2! I’LL BE FINE, MATE. ‘NOTHER ONE. ‘NOTHER ONE. GET ME ANOTHER FUCKING SHOT. *gets kicked out of club*.
We like this class, all of us. Even the fifty year old ex-divorce lawyer; his wife left him and wiped him out clean; he thinks it’ll make a good story. We all enjoy Mariana’s advice on writing. She tears our stories apart, and lambasts our every idea. She makes us think in a new way. She applauds Nicholas Sparks and detests Virginia Wolff. She has a poster of Fifty Shades of Grey in her office ‘Now this, this is writing. Can any of you write a best-seller? About fucking?!’
She’s the teacher who we tell all our friends about. Messy black bob, roll neck black top, skinny white jeans, and suede Colombian Boots. She’s published a few poems; wrote lyrics for a band that went to prison for deep-frying a gerbil live on stage; wrote a novel under a man’s name which you’ll probably find in an Oxfam somewhere; is currently on the final draft of her second book.
Seminar , we have to hand in our short stories next week. It’s seventy percent of our grade. She likes weird stories; she once wrote a short story where a woman’s boyfriend convinces her to let him put his pet Tarantula in her vagina. It won an award in Germany.
Julian and I sit next to each other, he’s happy, I’m sad. Mariana comes in; she’s carrying a copy of Douglas Coupeland’s ‘Girlfriend in a Coma’. We all fall silent.
‘What a load of shit’. She slams the book on the desk. ‘I cannot apologies enough for making you read this’. She whips out her electronic cigarette – she usually smokes Vogue. We all nod, lapping it up. ‘It’s a load of bollocks, no story, nothing.’ She often will recommend us something which she’s never read, so we can read it together, and so she can’t sway our thoughts prior to reading it. I think it’s brilliant, my dad thinks it’s lazy. I’m sure when I’m fifty, I’ll agree.
She blows out a cloud of smoke, which rises slowly, reminding me of an old film. ‘Story time then,’ she says. Every week, she reads us what she’s been working on; it’s a novel about a girl, a university student who’s trying to write a novel about her life at uni. But she can’t come up with the story. Mariana’s writing makes us all laugh a lot, but I sometimes wonder if there’s anything to it.
She finishes the short section, and we clap. We then talk a bit about the book, and our writing. The ex-lawyer, is sad, because his wife has found out he is writing about her. She’s threatened to sue, and he has no money left. I have no sympathy for this; he should have come up with a different story.
Julian tells the class briefly about his idea, but it’s not the story within a story idea, it’s about something to do with a granny whose grandchildren give her psychedelic drugs instead of her medication. Some thinks it’s hilarious, but I’m wondering why he told me about his other idea.
I do the same when it’s my turn, I don’t tell the class about my story within a story, because someone else might steal it. Instead I tell I’m writing about a boy at university who can’t decide what to write for his creative writing class, so he writes about that instead. Some laugh, others wonder what the hell I’m doing.
The class ends, and I run to the library. Julian wanted to talk, but I brushed him away. I had to go write my story within a story, before he did.. The computers in the library are filled with Asian students, they commander this area all the time, which annoys me, but I probably shouldn’t tell you why.
I write down my story within a story, I want people to think how clever it is. But, the thing is, no one ever will say that. People’s writing is never what they think it is. Sad really, it’s all child’s play.
I type, and type. Going out for the occasional smoke break. I lodge a rizla in the forward arrow of the computer so it keeps it awake, and doesn’t let it go to sleep. It’s something the Asian students do to keep themselves logged on for eternity. Trick of the trade.
I come back, to find my computer how I left it. I open word doc, to find the story gone. It’s been saved, but there’s no words left, just a blank page. Five thousand words gone. I press control z, nothing returns. My history’s been cleared, there’s nothing left. I turn around in desperation to the people in the room, they do not see me. I ask a girl next to me who touched my computer, she looks at me blankly then shrugs her shoulders. I ask the boy opposite my computer, he says someone came up to the computer and played about with it. I ask him why he didn’t do anything, he shrugs. I ask him what the person looked like, and he laughs
‘You all look the same’.
I close my computer down, and run out of the library.
I go to Mariana, she is smoking her electronic cigarette. Julian is with her, they are reading my story.
I stand there and ask for it back. Julian looks down. Mariana looks at me.
‘You stole his story.’ She says blankly.
‘What? No, he stole it.’
She sighs and shakes her head.
‘He said he was going to write a story about a granny high on fucking drugs’ I whine.
She asks me what the story was about, and I tell her.
‘Julian came to me with that idea yesterday.’
‘Yes, but I wrote it, I wrote it first, and he stole it’.
‘You can’t steal a story’ she says.’
‘Anyway,’ she says ‘we’re going to write something real.’ She points to Julian.
‘Co-writer’ he says.
She gets up and ushers me out.
‘Write something else.’
I finish reading and look up at the class. They say I need another idea.