Literally what the title says.
I stare at the headline of the email. "Submission to Carte Blanche" I let out an optimistic breath and open it.
Our apologies for taking so long to get back to you regarding your
submission. Thank you for sending "As Perfect as it Really Is" to carte
blanche. We have read your submission carefully and we feel that it isn't right for carte blanche at this time. We hope you are successful in finding a venue for your work. Best of luck with your writing.
With our regards,
My heart compresses like a soured mouth, the initial sanguinity before opening the message was gone. I walk around my living room and think about the wording of the letter. What does it mean when someone says they "read something very carefully?" Does it mean that they liked it? Was it not good enough? Was this just a mass email they sent to shitty writers who think their work deserves merit?
I calm down. I stop pacing back and forth and smile. It feels nice that they wrote me back. Writing is a very subjective market I tell myself. I walk to the bathroom, look in the mirror and wink at myself. "I need to leave the apartment" I say. I go for a walk.
I walk down the street whistling a Neil Young song - off key - to keep myself company. There is something slightly depressing about the air outside before winter; even the trees don't want to be there; I feel their malign in my bones. I walk under the streetlights and chase my shadow. After a block my shadow disappears and I am alone again.
I stand on the corner and rocking back and forth. I look at the pub across the street. I was there last night. I was drinking with a friend. I asked him what he thought of the story that I sent him.
"It's coming around leaps and bounds, but there are times where you are still making errors." He said.
"I don't follow." I said.
"The way you write sometimes reminds me of trying to talk to a drunk."
"I like that that is you being nice about it."
"I'm not, I'm curious if you are actually drunk?"
"No, I'm sober every time I write a story."
"Maybe you should try writing drunk."
"Just try it, see what happens. Maybe the problem with you is that you think too much about what you're writing. You need to shut all that shit off and just let it flow. Maybe getting shit faced will do you good and if it doesn't at least it can't get worse."
"Why not get a whole bunch of booze and give it a shot?" I say to myself over and over again.
I walk to the closest liquor store I know of and buy an eight pack of beer and a Pint of Vodka.
At the liquor store a song starts to play. There is a man in front of me; he is tapping his feet.
"Hey, what is this playing right now?" The man says to the teller.
"Shitty music." She says back.
What he thought was a great first line was quickly deflated. Before he knew what happened he was standing outside the liquor store with a slack jaw and change in his hand.
"What is that called when you can't think of something to say until it is too late?" The teller says to me.
"L'esprit de l'escalier." I say.
"I think that guy is living in a perpetual state of it."
I smile and say.
"You're not going to hit on me too?" She says.
"Can't really say it's my thing."
"What is your thing?"
"Well said, do you at least want to know my name?"
"Your name tag beat me to it."
"Can I at least have yours?"
"It's John. I'm sure this is not the last time you will see me."
"Good to know."
I go home. I stare at my typewriter for what seems like an hour. I take slow mouthfuls of beer and think of things to write about. There is no urge to write about wizards or vampires, I'm sure that the world has read enough stories about that. I don't get why it is so popular. To me it sounds like filter boards for skinny nerds and the morbidly obese; a world with cheesy dialogue and super powers. No use going to the gym, no need to worry about hygiene and a reason to have another helping at diner. They escape into another life so they don't have to bother fixing their own.
I stare at the blank page. I'm on my forth beer. I decide to have a double shot of Vodka and finished the beer as a chaser. I try to think of something to write. I look through early stories I've written and try to find inspiration. The theme in my stories is bleak, there is always a male protagonist and he's usually a misogynist self loather who is not very intelligent. Any intelligence in the prose has been craftily stolen from somebody else; I think if someone read my mind they would hear somebody else's thoughts.
I fill my entire mouth full of beer and walk to the bathroom. I watch the veins in my feet as I walk to the washroom. I stand on my bathtub. I lift my shirt and look at my reflection in the mirror. I grab a handful of my stomach fat and shake it like I'm trying to rip it off. I look at the dark rings under my eyes and long for my youth.
I sit on the toilet and run my hands through my hair; I stare at the tiny dust particles on the bathroom tile and spell my name with my toes. I debate writing about sex and drugs, but even the true stories I have come out sounding made up; the facts are changes so that I come out on top. Even the best drug stories leave out the part where I am hiding underneath my bed, high on Acid, totally convinced that my roommate is going to kill me.
Everything I think to type comes out convoluted; I hit random keys like a dyslexic composer. I stare at the words and try to find a pattern. I finish the last of the beers and download some pornography on the computer. I masturbate in my bed - it feels more intimate - I wonder if my neighbors can hear the moans and if they think I am with a woman. I turn on the television but nothing is on. I walk back to the living room and stare at the typewriter for another hour or so.
I decide that I can't drink the Vodka by itself and leave the house to pick up more alcohol. It is very cold outside and it is raining; I feel the wet freckles on my face. I look up into the plum sky and trace the skeletal arms of the trees above me; like a petrified cobweb in the bruised sky. I promise myself that if anything I will not forget this sight; I focus on the branches and ingrain them into my memory. Like a blanket in the morning my mind will have this one thought, the dismal thought of these branches.
By the time I get to the liquor store it is closed. I think of the teller I met and wondered how the night would have gone if I saw her closing up. I still want to drink and the closest place to get off-sales is right beside my apartment. The floor smells like urine and there is a sense of decay in the walls. There are two waitresses working behind the bar and one customer; a young woman reading a book in a booth and drinking a glass of red wine. I order a six pack of beer and a pint and sit down and stare at the girl. From what I can tell she is reading a translation book, she is average looking and her clothes look cheap. I imagine taking her home; I look down and cannot focus on my feet and decide I am too drunk to talk to her. I take large sips of beer and finished it quickly. I wipe the corners of my mouth with my jacket sleeves and leave the pub.
I go to a corner store, buy a bag of potato chips and some juice for the Vodka. I try to say hello the old oriental lady at the till but fall backwards and knock down an entire rack of gum. She screams "Gweilo, Gweilo" and chases me out into the street with a broom. I make my way back to my apartment and after several tries get the key into the lock. I must have passed out because I wake up in the kitchen in a pool of urine. I walk into the living room. It is 3 in the morning. I look at the floor. There are empty bottles of Vodka and about 14 crushed beer cans. I look at my typewriter there is a sentence written on it:
"You will never amount to anything.
P.s don't pee the bed."
In the end I guess what I'm left with is a mediocre amount of talent and no original ideas. I don't really know why I wanted to get published in the first place; in the end all the fame and recognition in the world ends up as clinked glasses and a cocktail toast; my stories nothing more that fire wood. In the end you are immortalized by what you do in your life. What if I do nothing?