We All Want to Be J. K. Rowling
by Dave Suggs, Jr
(Jesup, Ga, U.S.)
My wife has to work. The baby gets colds and needs the insurance for that pink sludge that must be refrigerated and discarded after ten days, so we need insurance. The baby goes to daycare and comes home with colds because my wife works, so we need the insurance.
There are two babies. Two baby girls. I would eat my arms for them. Well, the selfish, naked truth is, I’d eat one of my arms for them. I need at least one arm to write. In a way, I’m writing because we need the insurance, because the babies get colds. I’m writing with the hope that my wife can stay home with our babies so they will never get the colds.
There are two boys, too, hidden out of reach for another thirteen days. I am screaming inside, where no one can hear me. The second their tiny shoes leave the floorboards of my truck, until they once again plant them there, thirteen days later, I scream. Thirteen days of hell.
I have thirteen days of hell to look forward to as I pull out of that cursed driveway. “These are the times that try men’s souls.” Indeed. I wish I could write like that.
Screw the fame. “Fame is a fickle friend, Harry.” That’s what Professor Lockhart said. She doesn’t know how lucky she is, that J. K. Rowling. Perhaps she does, though. She has children, and she wasn’t always rich and famous. It’s not fame I want, not the riches, either. I don’t want to be rich; I want to write. I want to write and get paid for it. Not a lot, just enough. I imagine the story. I imagine that I have "made it."
We are in the house, the same house we lived in before my dreams began to sell, but we have different cars. The cars are bigger because our family is bigger.
I still rise early. It’s early, and I’m drinking coffee. The girls are asleep. My girls. The girls whom I write for and about each day. Even when I take a boy through a land riddled with amusements and dangers and ripping, roaring creatures, it’s about the girls. All of them.
I make bagels with Wal-Mart brand cream cheese, and place them on a bone china saucer from Vera Wang for my wife. I microwave bacon without mercy because she likes it half-charred, and I skin fruit because the best parts lay inside.
She doesn’t need makeup, my wife. I flump down onto the coverlet and watch as she dreams what mothers dream. What good mothers dream. I stroke her shoulder and the nape of her neck and trace the freckles I have fallen for and lost count of countless times. Her hair spills onto the white pillowcases, and I smell lilac and honey and sweet berries. I wake her with a strategic kiss on the hollow of her collarbone. I name her Angel.
She turns to me, slides tanned arms of silky delight against both sides of my neck to pull me into the nook of her shoulder and chin for what feels like an eternity of bliss. We love each other. Oh, the bliss of that alone! To be with her in the morning sun, the summer sun, on another day that is a Tuesday. It is constantly Tuesday, which knows no defining characteristic, like Monday or Humpday or even Thursday, the great prelude to the American weekend.
Bagels and bacon and coffee. Placid talks of nothing in particular. These are the things of my dreams. The patter of miniature bare feet on newly polished bamboo floors, silence as they reach the carpet in our living room. I am soaring, although I still miss my sons.
Now I am in my office, decorated like the mountainside cabin in which my wife and I fell in love. Shortly, I must relinquish passwords and Windows Live ID and Yahoo usernames and Facebook-Twitter-Blogarama doodads. They are potholes in the road.
I look east and instead of the humid Southern Georgia forest, I see a winter landscape at high altitudes, a mammoth picture on the northern wall of our home. I find the mouse and click past the necessaries. They are the mundane barricades, but for all that, they are the necessaries.
Where do my ideas come from, why this story, not another? Why did this person die – for me, they are people, not characters. They are the necessaries. Writing is my job, after all.
Then I am on fire. Burning, blazing, pounding fingers rouse me. I breathe life into the formerly ethereal and nonexistent, build their world around them, put their plays and destinies into motion. I flay myself open and catch every drop on the keyboard. I drown myself, wait for asphyxia to turn my mind inside out and flash photograph what I see there. For four hours, I truly live. I do what I was built for.
What remains of the day is whatever we make it. Some days we hike, others we spend in the park or at the lake fishing. We have afternoons at the mall or watch television or play video games with the children. Or not; I am a sucker for the Xbox 360. My closest fans will know this. Life is whatever our hearts desire because we are free. We have, after all, “made it.”
In reality, I write these words that have soaked in guilt. Guilt over my day job, the one I struggled to have and fought to keep, guilt over the Xbox 360 and the Blackberry on my belt. The worst guilt, the shameful truth, is that I want to leave all that alone and just … write.
All I want is to write, but the family needs to eat. The family needs to know the checks have cleared and the mortgage is paid. I have these things, and the desire to throw them away and don the moldering coat of the starving artist shames me when no one is looking.
The family needs me to put my pen down. We regret to inform you that this just isn’t right for us. Good luck placing it elsewhere. After all, all it takes is one yes.
Cursed words. Tired words. Hateful words to those who have families. All it takes is one yes. I will write, and I will wait. Writing is what I was made to do. In the meantime, my wife has to work. For the insurance. We need the insurance.