a month or two ago, I received an email from a writing friend about a new writing circle she was starting a few towns over. i liked the idea of a circle, and i like her, so i thought i would show up the first night and find out what she had in mind.
one thing i like about my friend karen is that she is amazingly thorough. despite being nearly nine months pregnant and the mother of a two year old, she had clearly put a great deal of work into the circle even before its inception. i am never sure about groups, but i appreciate hard work.
our first writing prompt is supposed to be about our fears. i appreciate a challenge, too. here's what i wrote instead of my blog the first morning my internet was down.
“Having trouble?” Her voice is like the purr of a Cadillac’s engine. I hear it deep inside somewhere… but where, exactly, eludes me, just the way so many words, so many sentences and images and metaphors have eluded me this morning.
I hear the echo of a distant laugh.
She knows I’m after her.
She is Published Writer. She is hard and sleek and prefers to wear high leather boots – shiny black, of course – and a lace-up leather corset. Her favorite toys are whips and knives, and she is quite merciless.
She steps out of the shadows and I see the glint of her long white teeth, her blood-red lips, her long red nails. “Feeling brave, are we?” She chuckles. Over the corset she’s wearing a black and white hounds-tooth checked suit. No boots today; her stockinged legs end in pointy black pumps. Her hair is the color mine used to be.
“Maybe,” I say. I’m wearing jeans and my sweatshirt with the ratty sleeves, the one that’s soft and blue as my baby blanket. My feet are bare.
“So what do you want?” She lights a cigarette, blows the smoke in my face. I want to blow it back, but I don’t smoke.
“I want to ask you – no, I want to tell you – to leave my first drafts alone.”
She sneers, rolls her eyes, takes a long drag. “Are you kidding? The way you write, you might as well wander around all day with a paper bag over your head. Who are you trying to fool? You need me –“
“You’re right, I do need you. I need you to make phone calls and read reviews and talk to Jenn, and if we’re ever going to have an editor again, I need you to deal with her. Or him. I need you to – to make the revisions, to sense what sells. But I don’t need you ravaging my first drafts.”
She puts her face close to mine, and I can smell the blood on her breath. It’s my blood, every drop, and deep inside my chest, my arms, my throat, I feel the scars begin to ache, the places that she’s mined and fed. Not for the first time, I hate her. She licks her lips and says, “You think you got all the time in the world, sister? You’re not getting any younger, you know. At the rate you write…”
“You know, that’s the trouble, right there. You’re mean. I don’t like you. You don’t just ravage the drafts, you shred them. You’re hard and you take away all of my joy.” I look over to the wall, where a slim white wraith of a woman is chained. “You took my Muse. I want her back.”
“You gave her to me.”
“You didn’t used to be so mean.”
She laughs, snaps her fingers. “It’s a mean business, sweetheart. And you need me to survive in it.”
“Maybe I don’t think you’re worth it.”
“You blaspheme!” Her face contorts, her lips thin as they pull back from the razor edges of her fangs. Her body swells, lengthens. She is an enormous Cobra, dancing above my head.
“You’re very scary,” I say as calmly as I can, because – besides blood - she feeds on fear. “This is why I can’t have you around the first drafts. You just proved my point.”
Again she shrieks, and the huge head lunges forward, fangs dripping venom. But the snake body collapses as she shrinks, morphing back into a woman, a tiny woman, who runs shrieking into the void: “We’ll meet again, my pretty!”