"Writing Is a Bloody Business" by Lauren Dostal


An alabaster desk sitting in the corner of the room where my Uncle used to sit, angled precisely so that he could look half out the window and half at the swatch of white painted on the wall. It was supposed to imitate the way the brain feels in the moments preceding a burst of creative energy. I remember him sitting there, pen balanced at the tips of his jagged fingers, eyes racing over the swatch of white trying to read the muse’s words. I remember the squeaking cry that would sometimes escape his lips—a signal we should leave him alone. Everyone should leave him alone, goddammit. He was writing. He was writing. Couldn’t everyone see it? He was writing!

But despite his objections, I can only recall a single instance when the words made it off of his wall and onto the blank sheet of paper lying under the shadow of his head, those flyaway red hairs. As I watched discreetly from a corner, I heard his lips whispering and it sounded like he had finally captured the elusive muse. He worked his words into a fury of murmurs, growling like a tiger, like a maimed monkey, like a horizontal cow tipped over in a field. I bounced upon the balls of my feet trying to catch a glimpse of the words that would soon flow from that pen tip. His hand hovered over the paper. Slowly the fingers curled upwards, turning the pen towards his freckled face. He drew it backwards, against the desk, then shoved the long italic tip into his own mouth. A flood of red bloodied the virgin paper.