I’m not writing much these days. Every day, I just sit a couple of hours in front of the word processor (or have a notepad, pen, and a candle handy if there’s no electricity) and try to squeeze my brain for the next chapter of the various book projects I’m wrangling with. And this is a custom that’s beginning to thin out, too, for one can be hardly expected to continue with these unrewarding, fruitless attempts. I’d rather be doing something more productive, like raking leaves or sieving through a compost heap.
Unlike my fellow writer friends, I’m not possessed by this all-consuming obsession with writing. I’d love to, but unlike them, too, my writing career hasn’t really taken of at all. We have a saying down here: “verle el queso a la tostada” ( “to see the cheese inside the grilled sandwich”… which means to finally get some reward out of some penurious struggle). While all my other writing friends are showing some progress in their writing careers, mine is dead on its tracks. Getting a positive review or seeing that I made a sale on one of my books was plenty enough incentive to churn out a few extra pages everyday.
For the past three months… zilch, niente, nada.
(Knowing that the last couple of sales came from my girlfriend’s mom, who’s just curious about what kind of maniac her daughter is dating, isn’t helping much either, mind you!)
There’s also another reason for which I’m not writing… a more ominous one.
Depicted left are the innards of my fridge. What you see in there is the menu for the next ten days or so; a few tomatoes, some onions, a head of lettuce and perhaps a quarter gallon of reconstituted powdered milk. I may be able to supplement my meager diet with some bananas or some manioc that I’m growing in my backyard, but that’s about it.
If you’re wondering how I came to this, well, it’s both a matter of being broke and living in a country where prices practically double up every other day (we now have a 93 % inflation rate!) But it’s okay… I can take it, for it seems that most of my fellow writing buddies agree it’s perfectly okay that I have to live this way.
However, what I won’t take anymore is the shocked attitude they show when I tell them that I’m NOT WRITING!!! (GASP!)… as if that was the only important thing in the world. Writing, regrettably, is a higher cognitive brain function that can only work properly when your stomach isn’t constantly growling for attention… which is something they prefer not to understand.
Now, looking back at the grilled cheese sandwich reference I wrote earlier, I realize it was a mistake… I’ll lose sleep over that for the next few days.