Fragment

Chapter 5. I’m beginning to get the hang of writing a novel: the key is to isolate a voice and pursue it with relentless, even sociopathic concentration. There’s a lot of sitting around alone until you start to hallucinate. I can see why mind-altering substances are a temptation—anything to speed up the whole process of allowing a foreign entity to take over your mind.

the atomic clock bangs against my ribcage

Exhaustion, on the whole, is your friend, being both mind-altering and highly motivating. If you’re slightly masochistic, it works even better. “You can’t go to bed until you finish this page.” Probably you could go to jail for treating yourself like this if you were willing to press charges. At one a.m., I pace back and forth between the desk and the window, feeling very wild and trapped. I don’t have the lights on—I’m not a fan of light, except for the sun—so the only thing standing between me and a barked shin is the glow from the fake sheet of paper on my computer screen. I need maybe two sentences to put this whole thing behind me for the night. I’m about ready to fake it—channel a counterfeit voice.

echolocation in a locked-room mystery

Then, during one of my staring spells at the window, I see her massive form rounding the bend in the road. My first thought, in my happily delusional state, is that a tree has detached itself from the world of the inanimate. I don’t know why a walking tree seems more plausible than a giant but maybe the point is that it doesn’t—it just seems like a better story. Admit it, you’d rather be reading about a walking tree right now.

two trunks
grown together
my official signature

I don’t even want to go into the details about how I run out to meet her—I guarantee I would never have done this if I weren’t writing a novel—and steer her into the barn, explaining painstakingly that it wouldn’t be a good idea for anyone else to see her. Why am I not afraid? I’m not afraid because she’s just a character. She came to me like all the other characters do, in a dream, in an unreal part of my life. She’s a story. It takes me a while to realize how much she’s not a story, and by that time she’s gone, and by that time I’ve decided to give up writing novels.

behind my eyelids an unfamiliar constellation

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