The lady writer took a trip on the tube for no reason other than that a colleague had said it might do her good.
“See some people, listen to them, see some stuff, make some notes.”
Who was the imposter who suggested finding what you like to do best and making a living out of it?
She used to love writing when she was a kid; a right little Bronte sister she was, with her notebooks full of plays and poems. Studied English, got a job as a teacher, liked it, and then packed it in to be a ‘writer’. All on the strength of a damned short story competition. The judges must’ve liked cats, that’s all. After the Cat Period, came the Food Period, followed by the House Makeover Period and the Handbag and Accessory Period. Just like Picasso; getting worse all the time (as she’d said in her brief, very brief, Art Period).
She was tired of writing rubbish. At first she had naively thought that she would blaze a parallel trail as a novelist, but what with racking her brains for material for articles about such tripe as post-holiday blues, positive stress, and solar powered dishwashers, she couldn’t slam her laptop shut fast enough. Articles designed for minds with an attention span of sixty seconds and the cultural aspirations of a hedgehog. Now the thirty-odd weeks a year in the classroom and the salary in the bank every month seemed like a rosy dream. Hey, would any teacher in their right mind go and do more classes in the evening? Exactly.
Why the tube? she wondered. Not a lot to see out of the windows. Practically everyone in here is reading a tabloid or a women’s magazine, apart from the quasi-illiterates prodding away at their phones. Some snippets of poetry framed up on the walls – that’s nice. What she needed was an idea. Yes, she could write a novel as good as the next man or woman, but what about? Most of the new stuff was the sort of thing she would write right now; a sophisticated, literary chunk of nothingness. Or she could go historical – there was money in that – but there’s the research, and time is money, or no money in her case.
The train stopped and a nun got on. You don’t see many nuns on the tube these days and this nun looked at the poem on the wall, read it, and smiled a serene, nunny smile. Maybe there was the seed of a story there? If she could just start writing a story maybe she would get back into it.
Well she wrote that story about the nun; a trite little piece that she knew was worthless, and she won another respectable short story competition. Now she knew what she had to do.
Six months later she was teaching again and hadn’t written an unnecessary word for six months. She would write again when she had something to write. She was grateful to her friend and for the ride on the tube, and put the last five wasted years down to experience.