When you’re a writer, people tend to give you blank notebooks as gifts. Sometimes, you also see one in a shop with an enticing cover, one with a picture of a painting by Matisse, for instance, or a Viennese café with old world artists discussing philosophy and love over cups of cappuccino with strips of cherry strudel by their side, and you buy these hardcover books of empty, lined pages and then realize, after the euphoric moment of purchase has passed, that you’ve sentenced yourself to filling it with poetry or prose whether you want to or not.
There’s nothing more demoralizing than having an entire row of virgin journals on the shelf, accentuating your failure to do what you’d promised yourself and/or others in your usual boastful manner. Sometimes, to lessen the sting of their spotting, you scatter them about your abode – one in the dresser, for example, and another under the bathroom sink, where it may garner dampness and mould, making it unworthy to write in.
And that’s when your conniving hits its stride, the excuse you’ve been looking for to avoid telling your immediate circle of individuals that you’ve had writer’s block or have spent too much time on the sofa watching reality television or were just too lazy to get the job started never mind done; that all the caffeine in the universe couldn’t stain the pages with ink; that you were secretly hoping that termites would infest your place and that they were hungry for paper and bookbinder’s glue and you could show everyone the tattered red ribbon they left behind, that it was placed near the end of your magnum opus, the great dystopian novel where the world runs out of trees because madness gripped the poet and he was unable to stop his scribbling even when pens were smashed to bits by the masses and he grew sickly and pale from frantically jotting things down with his cut finger and what remained of his blood.