"What's the world for you if you can't make it up the way you want."

-Jazz, Toni Morrison


Untitled For the Moment

Untitled For the Moment

    The first time that thought crept across the stage of my mind was in the aftermath of a one night stand. We were naked, unintelligible creatures relishing in the breeze, trickling in through his cracked window. We were two satiated monsters resting in the same den. 

    But the thought of sex isn’t the important thought. It was a precursor to a thought that would plague me for hours after I let it out into the open air, perhaps a lifetime after I put it on this page. 
“Have you ever thought,” I started slowly, “about how we, as writers, spend seconds of our lives, breathing life into fictional characters?”

    He had risen from the bed to grab his water. When he returned, I could hear the contemplation deep in his chest. I wanted him to fall into a familiar moment, but I only got a shrug.
I tried to force it, “We willingly leave these characters behind as a testament to our undocumented lives. Their recognition either brands us a success or a failure. Doesn’t that bother you?”

    My received response was less than inspiring. “I know I haven’t written anything that will outlive me yet.”

    His flatline response bred my growing anxiety. I have been writing for close to ten years. A decade worth of writing, and all I have to show for it is years wasted. With each word, I type there are seconds of my life becoming tangible and lost. 

    There, in that room filled with stale air and the corpses of hyperbolized moans, his bed began to feel unfamiliar. My mind was slowly becoming a sandbox for agony laced logolepsy to play in. He sat behind his typewriter, staring at my sheet wrapped form, a brittle look in his eyes. He was trying to write something enigmatic about my body, but with every failed second of inspiration, my form was decaying into wasted art. 

    “What are you trying to write?” I asked quietly, not even expecting an answer.

    He took another sip of water, “I’m just trying to write.”

    So guarded is the writer on the verge of anticipated genius. He’s concerned others will steal his ideas and find their fortune with his abducted brainchild. I can’t say I blame him. Would it not be the ultimate insult to watch someone make your idea their Pulitzer Prize? I’ll ask it again, does it bother you that as a writer you spend your delicate existence breathing life into fictional characters? Would you be willing to share joint custody of that perceived success?

    Why is it that failure suddenly makes you the custodial parent?    

    The way he eyed me as I got dressed told me that, to him, I was already potentially guilty of plagiarism. It was hard not to overthink his process of running his hands along the curves of my body as he kissed me goodbye and whispered, “I’d like to see you again.” His hands meant to brand me a thief, to find his idea written on my body.

    “We’ll see,” were my departing words. 

    It wasn’t the sensation that his lips left on mine that sat in the forefront of my mind as I maneuvered through traffic. The usual rush from the redistribution of blood within my body didn’t turn my skin to gooseflesh. I was six circles deep into a full-blown artistic crisis. Ten years? Ten years!

    A writer is a writer, is a writer, is a writer. We’re a penny a dozen in this piggy bank industry that’s exceedingly saturated. I’ve written my plots out on napkins, with $2.00 in my bank account, and the weight of society’s expectations pressing so violently that my handwriting is hardly legible. But I’m not trying to make money. I’m trying to be significant.

    This brainchild, conceived between two writers, and carried to term by one, is now exposed. Ten years weighs heavily on this moment in which I am still untitled. If I have one chance to save the tortured artists who only find resistance, let it be with these words: Every word is worth the time you take to think of it. Your philanthropy is counted in the moments in which you save, inspire, and fortify your readers. Please, never lose the passion for this art which causes the most beautiful flashes of agony laced clarity.

    I made it home. With me in the silence is the brainchild I am nursing, who has been rejected by its father. If it really does take a village, then let every fiber of my being be enough. I’ll ask you one more time: Does it bother you that your life is spent breathing life into fictional characters?
Tentative answer: No.


Sierra Sellers is a graduate of Wells College where I studied Creative Writing. She currently lives in Syracuse, NY where she is a paralegal by day and girl-gamer on Mixer by night. She had a nonfiction piece titled, “What Can’t Be Spoken” published in the 2014 issue of Blood and Thunder.

Cover photo by Masaaki Komori on Unsplash

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