This is me, writing:
Aha! Hunched over, fingers flying ticticaticatic over the keys, it’s hot in here and I’m on fire, sizzling, the epitome of a supercharged poet, burning literary rubber, Kerouac’s got nothing on me, and the words can’t flow fast enough through my fingers, and then (oh, shit, oh, no, don’t do it) I look at the screen–
What? What the hell is that? Oh no no no, that’s not right— not right at all–
–and the sizzle turns to hiss.
The following chapter is what I call a “false start” (when I’m in a good mood. When I’m not, it’s something that starts with an “f “or an “s”). If I were a mother cat and this was my twisted newborn kitten, I would have eaten it by now. For some reason, here at the end of my novel, I felt moved to write from a completely new perspective, that of a heartless outsider. Why did I do this? Maybe I needed to exorcise some demon. Perhaps I’m having difficulty ending the story. Maybe it took me 30 chapters to finally get this snarky voice out of my head. But instead of deleting it nice and clean, I’m posting it here so we can share a little chuckle.
Do you ever have false starts? How long does it take before you realize you’re headed in the wrong direction? How do you depose your inner snark?
The afterparty is held in an exclusive, trendy spot with a bar at the center and table–filled nooks carved out along the edges of the room. The low ceiling offers the illusion of intimacy; sculptural lights dangle like jewels and cast a scarlet flush that catches on the curls and facets of well-coiffed heads, glossy lips and smiles so white they glow in the dark. The room is studded with little clusters of people having private parties in a public place; smiling like they know, sipping drinks, holding poses. An occasional voice rises above the others, strident or clever, mocking or nebbish, and others follow with gratuitous laughter. The stars are on fire tonight. They blaze like suns. Even the minor characters have been scrubbed and polished to a dull luster. It is a beautiful display—as a group they have achieved a critical mass that elevates them all, unites them all with a frisson of self-satisfaction.
Cameras flicker and flash, benign explosions exposing the details of faces, mostly Mae Beacon’s. She stands at the center of a crowd holding a champagne flute in one hand and what seems to be an imaginary pen in the other. She is telling some fabulous-looking story, making grandiose flourishes in the air with her pen, pausing now and then for the laughter. Look at her. Just look. She has them eating out of her hand. They would bark like dogs if she asked them to. How could anyone manage to be so bewitching and charming and young at the same time? What makes her so special? If we could get a little closer, we might see. We might discover the trick up her sleeve. We could expose her, copy her, reach out and touch her, give her a good pinch to see if she’s real, maybe even make some money off of her, right? Of course I’m joking, darling. Anyway, she’s surrounded by a tight-knit crowd, a tight and jealous bunch with their backs turned to the rest of us. However, you will be interested to note that her composer friend is not at her side; guess he was just background music in the end. Ha, ha! In his place stands a bookish boy wearing a beautiful vintage Italian suit. Who is he? People want to know.
Lang Westwood, the famous indie avant-garde director, is deep in discussion with a select group of important people at a table on the edge of the room. Many people would let themselves be chewed up and spit out if they could just be a piece of gum stuck to the bottom of that table. Baz Bogard the producer is doing all the talking, probably discussing Deep Water or maybe his next project. They say Westwood will only consider local projects for the next five years so her kid can graduate from high school. Isn’t that nice? What a woman. I suppose if she wins the awards, she can afford to sacrifice. Sources say that Westwood and Mae had something going on in Louisiana but if they did it must be done since they haven’t even glanced in each other’s direction. Svengali, anyone? Oh, please.
Sitting at Westwood’s side is a dark-haired woman in a red dress whom art connoisseurs will recognize as a famous painter although I can’t quite remember her name. She paints flowers or women, something like that. It’s on the tip of my tongue…. oh well, they say she’s very talented but she does not seem charmed by the conversation. The others lean forward while she leans back in her chair, gazing around the room with those dark, curious eyes. Restless eyes, that’s what they are; they wander all over the room. She looks like she must be a handful. Oh, wait– there it is– Westwood just took her by the hand. Now they’re looking at each other and smiling. They must be in love. How perfectly nice for them both. It will never last.
If you know your stuff, you can tell who really belongs and who had to pay to get in. There’s the guy who played Mae’s romantic lead, Peyton Hoydyn, with three “y’s” and one arm clamped firmly around the thing with mounds of cleavage. Not bad. And there’s the composer in the corner talking with the tiny woman who played the piano in the film. Ava Gibbon the heiress/celebrity is here, of course, because she always shows up, and Mann Bradley the celebrity/reporter-of-the-stars, too, but that hot French actress won’t be here since she just had a baby.
Speaking of babies I almost forgot to mention they say she’s going to have one. Yes, Mae Beaon. No kidding. Not by adoption–she’s doing it the old fashioned way. Can you tell? See how she presses one hand against her stomach? Look at that cat-who-ate-the-canary look on her face. Wonder if that’s real champagne in that glass she’s drinking. Inquiring minds need to know.
Isn’t this fun? Are we having fun yet? Do I look like I’m having fun? But nobody’s here for fun although it is always a pleasure doing business and if you pretend hard enough, something might come true. You never know! Look at that manic mouse working the room; he jumps from group to group, asserting himself; our self-appointed host, I presume. He must be the writer, probably the first writer on credit, then someone else was hired to cut the fat, then someone else to make it actor-friendly. Nip and tuck, chop chop! A skinny script with plenty of white space, that’s the ticket.
At the table over there they’re serving Cajun hors d’ouvre, fried oysters and hushpuppies, that kind of thing. New Orleans is hot these days, very hot. Nothing like a mardi gras or a natural disaster to bring people together, you know. All the rubberneckers crawl out of the woodwork, attracted like flies to meat, moths to flame. The next best thing to finding yourself is losing yourself, you know. But the crab cakes are divine and whatever you do, don’t forget your swag bag on your way out.