I have some very annoying house guests right now.
The first is a young woman named Sarah. With an “h.” She gets mad if you forget the “h.”
The other morning after breakfast I said, “I have to go do some work now, Sara.”
She crossed her arms and looked at me. “It’s Sarah. With an ‘h.’ Why do you do that?”
I shook my head. “You heard the lack of an ‘h?’ How is that possible?”
“It’s my name,” she replied. “I know the difference between ‘Sara’ and ‘Sarah.’ Duh.”
Sarah with an h is not the kind of person who says “Duh.” When she does, she means it sarcastically, or as an insult. Sarah with an h is in her late 20’s, and she’s from the east coast. She hates LA. She went to a small liberal arts college where she majored in English, and she has worked as an assistant at a major publishing house. She just finished writing a a book based on her blog about her dog, Franny, who had an art show in Soho. She doesn’t understand why it’s taking me so long to write my book, or to get an agent. She doesn’t understand why I’m not successful, and why I keep deluding myself that I ever will be.
My other house guest is in his early 20’s. His name is Jayson, and he grew up in Minneapolis with a loving family that totally supports his various artistic pursuits. He majored in philosophy and art history, and after graduation he toured with a theater troupe that performed Shakespeare entirely in Pig Latin. Now he writes for one of those websites that recaps TV shows. He’s very funny, and always has the perfect witty retort, as well as an amazing wardrobe that makes him look effortless chic and hip without seemingly like he’s trying at all. Whenever I ask him how he pays for it all – he makes hardly any money writing for the website – he gives a vague answer about an aunt of his mother’s who left him some money. He’s out every night at gallery openings or clubs in Hollywood. He keeps telling me I should write a blog about sandwiches named after famous people.
My third house guest is Bill. He gets very annoyed if you ask him his age. He worked in the entertainment industry for years, but hasn’t been able to find work lately. He likes to pretend that he’s English, although everyone knows he grew up in New Jersey. He is very vain, and constantly uses my computer to goggle things like “best Botox in LA” and “celebrity eyeglasses.” He thinks I should write a spec script about a fundamental Christian vampire who falls in love with a quirky New York waitress.
It’s hard to write with them around. Sarah with an h is always looking over my shoulder, rolling her eyes and saying things like, “Really? A book about your life? What’s the market like these days for historical novels?” Jayson sits across the room clicking away on his laptop, laughing hysterically at his own clever writing. And Bill reclines in the big easy chair, flipping though Entertainment Weekly. He has the ability to read a magazine and hold a conversation at the same time. “Stakes? You’re working on your character’s stakes? The only stakes you should be thinking about are the stakes your vampire needs to avoid.”
Sometimes I manage to make them shut up and leave me alone for a few hours, and then I actually get some work done. But most of the time they’re here with me, in my head, yammering away as I try to work. Except Jayson, of course. He completely ignores me at all times, which makes me even more paranoid.
Do you have house guests who live in your brain and drive you crazy?
Tara: Oh, hey, Blog. How are you?
Blog: “Oh, hey?” Is that all you have to say?
Tara: What’s wrong? You sound mad.
Blog: What’s wrong? You disappear for weeks, and then you show up all friendly, “Oh, hey,” like I’m not supposed to notice or anything?
Tara: Okay – what is going on?
Blog: I can’t believe you could treat me like this. I thought you were better than that.
Tara: I have no idea what you’re talking about.
Blog: It’s that book, isn’t it? You’ve been writing that book.
Tara: I never lied to you about the book. I told you I was writing a book.
Blog: But you used to write the book AND write me. So what happened? All of a sudden you’re in love with the book, and I’m out like last week’s loser on Project Runway?
Tara: You know I care about you. That hasn’t changed.
Blog: But you’re in love with that book, right?
Tara: Don’t compare yourself. It’s totally different. I don’t love the book more than you, it’s just …
Blog: What? The book is all literary and stuff, and I’m just a little amusement? I have feelings, you know.
Tara: Blog, come on. Stop it. Yes, it’s true, I have been spending a lot of time with the book lately. I needed to commit. It’s just something I had to do. But that doesn’t mean I don’t still like you.
Tara: You each give me different things. The book is deeper.
Blog: Thanks a lot. I can be deeper, you know. You’ve never tried to be deeper with me.
Tara: I don’t want you to be deeper. I like you the way you are. You’re fun. You’re … easy.
Blog: Great. That’s what every blog wants to hear. “You’re easy.” I’m so glad I’m here for you to have your little fun with.
Tara: Look, I’m sorry. I know I haven’t been around as much lately, and that was wrong of me. But this is something I really have to do right now.
Blog: But I can help you. You need me, you know. You think you’re just going to write a book and ride off into the sunset? What about a platform, huh? What about publicity? What about an audience. I can give you all those things.
Tara: I know. I know. And I want those things – I really do. But right now, I can’t think about that. I just have to write!
Blog: So write me! You used to love writing me! You wrote me every day! We had fun. Don’t tell me you didn’t feel it, because I know you did.
Tara: I did. I still do. Why are you making me choose? I want both of you. Lots of writers have both.
Blog: But you have to give me something – a little attention, a post here and there. I’m not a saint, you know. I have needs too!
Tara: I’m sorry. I am. I know I’ve been neglecting you. But I do need you. I do want you there with me.
Blog: Words are easy. You of all people should know that.
Tara: I just … I need a little space right now. I just need to write the book. It’s going really well, and I don’t want to lose momentum.
Blog: Look. You do whatever you have to. I’m not going to hang around waiting for your scraps, is all I’m saying.
Tara: I understand. I’m going to try to make it work. I really am.
Blog: I don’t want empty promises. I want posts. That’s all I’ve wanted from you. It doesn’t have to be every day. Once a week is fine.
Tara: Really? You’re willing to do that?
Blog: Of course. I’m with you in this. I’m part of this. I want what’s best for you. Once a week. That’s all I’m asking. Can you do that?
Tara: Yes. I can. I promise. I’ll change. You’ll see!
Blog: All right. Good. I feel better now.
Tara: I’m glad. I’ve missed you, you know?
Blog: Don’t try to butter me up now. Go – write the book. But remember – once a week.
Tara: Thanks, blog. I won’t let you down.
Blog: And chocolate works, too. Just so you know.