Imagine you’re at the pub with your friends and your writing comes in the door, blown in on a March wind, raindrops in its hair. You haven’t seen it for a while, but tonight it’s a little blowsy, raggedy at the edges, very self-conscious. You make the necessary introductions. It smiles politely to the others then nudges you on your arm and says, ‘We need to talk.’
From somewhere deep down come the painful memories of the other times this has been said to you; by girlfriends and/or boyfriends in university bedrooms, by parents standing in the hallway holding out the phone bill, or by your boss at work.
‘OK,’ you say, following your writing to a quiet corner at the back of the pub, next to the slot machines. Out of a speaker above your heads comes ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams. (If you were writing this scene in a novel, this would be ironic.) ‘What’s up?’ you ask.
‘We never get to go out together anymore,’ your writing says, looking briefly over its shoulder at your friends who are drinking their beer and checking their phones. ‘I was,’ it adds, ‘important to you once.’
‘You still are,’ you say, reaching out a hand and touching the material of its coat which is, you notice, still damp from the rain.
‘But I was your genre-searching/voice-finding/practice work/debut,’ it says. (Dear Writer, please delete where applicable.) ‘Now, I worry that if we met in the street, you wouldn’t recognise me. Or, more importantly, I wouldn’t recognise you.’
‘It’s OK,’ you say. ‘Yes, I’ve moved on, but you were my ‘kick from the shore’, I do still remember you and hope, even though I’m writing something else now/have put you under the desk/in the waste basket/at the back of the bookshelf (Dear Writer, please delete as applicable again) you will always know me and the writer I might become.’
Your writing shrugs, picks a tissue out of its pocket and blows its nose. With the tissue comes a semicolon or two, the odd marvellous sentence you once wrote, the memory of holding your first published novel in your hands and they spin to the floor. Taking hold of your writing’s hand, you make your way back over to your friends by the bar. ‘Whose round is it?’ you ask.
Your writing and you lean up against one another companionably as someone says, ‘It’s mine, what d’ya want?’ and the pub’s playlist changes to ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’ by Gotye.