A tale is a prostitute, really. We all know this very well. She slides into your mind, flighty and flirty, on a two-week residency. You can play with her and bend her to your will. In the privacy of your mind, you can mould her into an enjoyable a la carte daydream in which you play the hero. Or you can jot her details in your writer’s notebook for a future writing project (ha-ha). You can even commit. That is every prostitute’s dream really, though they may never admit it. But yes, you can commit to the one or two years required to flesh her out into a blockbusting, hundred-thousand-word novel. You can do that. Or you can do nothing at all. There are tons of tales, you know, of all shapes and sizes. Flashes, shorts stories, mysteries, epics, sci-fi… if you want to commit to every pretty tale that slides into your mind, you will need to live to be a thousand at least. So, you can do nothing at all, if you like, and after a couple of weeks of knocking around your mind, she will slip away, overnight. Just like that. You will wake up one morning and she’ll be gone. You’ll feel around your mind, trying to recall those comforting contours of the Tale That Got Away, but a story in the mind is a short-time artiste. Take it from me. When she leaves, she totally ghosts you. Next time you see her name will be a couple of years down the line, on the cover of a newly minted novel, with the name of your writer friend adulterously slathered underneath. Every writer reads a great book and wishes they wrote it, but this will be different. You will not be able explain the pain in your heart as you read your tale on the satiny leaves of another man’s book, recognising her seductive lines, her nostalgic turns and twists, because it is not as if you exchanged vows or anything. On the day of the book launch, you will shake the writer’s hand and make small talk, but you dare not mention your old relationship with their new novel. Because it is just rude to tell a writer who has settled down with your ex- that you once were intimate with her, even though we all know that a tale is a prostitute, really.    


4 Replies to “How to Break the Heart of a Writer”

  1. Idiege Peter says:

    …a story in the mind is a short-time artiste.
    I can’t shake off that line


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