You’re a story in my head that shouldn’t be there. I don’t want you. Not right now, nagging away at me like a complaining child. If I ask you to leave you ignore me and that’s not right – after all, this is my head. I’m the one who’s supposed to be in control of this situation.
On another day, I wouldn’t mind. On a different day, when my head is empty, I’d make you welcome. I might even invite you in myself. We’d sit by the fire with a strong cup of tea and pass the time together.
The problem is that today, I need to be with my other story. The one I’ve made a commitment to. The one that has a deadline.
The two of us are going through a sticky patch. We’re past the heady rush of those first few weeks, when the story filled me up so full I couldn’t think of anything else. But I’ve decided this is the one. The two of us are long past the point where we live together and see how it goes. I’ve even told people about it. I’ve introduced the story to my friends and they like it, so I wouldn’t want to let them down or have them think any the less of me. If I gave up now I’d feel like a failure, a waste of space, incapable of seeing something through to its conclusion.
And anyway, I know that every story has these sticky moments. No-one said it was going to be easy. Writing a book is hard work and you have to stay with it – you have to work your way through the problems, for better or for worse, even when it feels like you’re walking through mud. In the end, this is what makes the experience special, the shared struggle to create something bigger than the both of us.
But there you are. Still in my head. The wrong story.
You want to spend the day with me. I say no. You suggest a morning and then just an hour over coffee, in a crowded place, where there’s no chance of intimacy because we both know that if I write just a word of you, I’ll be lost forever. I couldn’t go back. And what will I do when things get tough with you? When we reach the mid-section, lost and confused, unable to find our way either forwards or back?
Every day I see a different story. They’re just out there. – on the street or in a supermarket. I spot them and I make a note, filing them away for another day, like a little black book, always ready to lead me astray.