Friday, July 08, 2005


Right now, Medusa is looking over my shoulder and laughing at me. Every letter I string together makes her giggle and when I come to the end of a sentence, she rolls her eyes and sighs deeply, as if she is ashamed of me. I hear her say, "That is the stupidest thing I've ever read. Who on Earth is going to read that?" I could stop typing and insist she's wrong, but I know it's pointless to argue. She'll just keep laughing and I'll lose my train of thought. There's no winning with her, especially because if I meet her eyes, I'll be frozen.

She looks like Angelina Jolie, with perfect skin and a mouth that makes people pucker, but her dark hair is filled with snakes. They hiss and slither, spitting with their fangs drawn. When she leans against me for a better look, I feel the snakes cold skin shiver against my neck. They are waiting for the moment I stare at her directly, because that's when they're allowed to bite me. They like frozen blood.

I keep writing. As long as I keep writing, she is powerless. All she can do is mock and tease, threaten and laugh, but nothing else. Even her snakes can only lick me with their eager tongues. I don't want to give her the satisfaction of making me doubt myself, so I move my fingers across the key board in a desperate attempt to get the words out before her voice gets too loud and I become lost in fear. The urge to create is greater than my fear of failure. She knows this. That's why she tries so hard.

I think she secretly likes me, but she'd never admit that. It's her job to make me doubt myself and quite writing, but the fact that we've been playing this game for twenty years without rest has made her respect me. No matter what, no matter how many more snakes she adds to her collection or what vision of perfection she morfs into (five years ago she looked like Uma Thurman), I haven't stopped writing. She's wounded me a few times, though. I used to argue, and now and then I'd turn around to challenge her and would instantly be turned to stone. It would take weeks to get the feeling back into my hands and heal from all the snake bites, but I would heal, and I would write again. Now days, she's more of an annoyance.

Except right now. I've written my novel, and she's just finished reading it. Her laughter is the only thing audible. "Do you really think the agent is going to take this piece of pooh?" I keep my eyes averted, put the novel in a box, write the agent's name and address on it, and walk out of the room. She yells, "I'll bet you ten bucks you don't mail it." I feel the weight of those 315 pages in my arms and long to turn around and fling it at her. Maybe I could take out a few snakes. But I won't take the bait. I'm smarter now. I smile and say, "Where'd I leave my car keys?"