Diary of a Nonentity, or, What To Do the Day After Your New Book Does Not Appear On A BIG Prize List, or, Speak To Me, HP Lovecraft:
6 a.m. Lie in bed a little longer. There is no hurry. It is September, in Edmonton, and therefore dark. One should never rush into darkness.
6:25 a.m. Make coffee. Stare at the coffee while it brews. It is also dark. Like your heart.
7:02 a.m. Get dressed. Yes. You should. Pyjama pants are not cute after forty.
8 a.m. It is just you and the dog now. Everyone else has left for the day. Stare at the dog so long he begins to shift nervously and avoid your gaze. Try not to feel snubbed by him.
9 a.m. By now you should be seated at your computer. You have checked Facebook, Gmail, and your work mail. Twice. You have googled the title of your book, just to see if anyone -- say, Neil Gaiman, or Cormac McCarthy, or Guillermo del Toro -- has expressed outrage at this obvious and inexplicable oversight by the prize jury. Finding nothing, google Guillermo del Toro. You have heard that plans for his film At The Mountains of Madness are again in motion. Read everything you can find on the matter. Google “Guillermo del Toro images.” Google monsters. Google madness.
11 a.m. Lunch. Coffee.
11:30 a.m. Email a writer friend. Pretend your intention was not to discuss the prize list. Say, I was not surprised. (This is the truth.) Say, Of course one is always disappointed. (This is also the truth.) Say, I was pleased to see “random name of any writer appearing on list” was there. Try not to say this twice. You have never been a good liar. Make plans with writer friend to meet for a drink later. Agree you won’t even discuss the list (HA HA HA).
11:40 a.m. The dog is making eye contact again, but cautiously. He wants to go for a walk. You are not in the mood. Instead, you stand in the yard staring at him again so long he is paralyzed by your black gaze and unable to urinate. Leave the dog alone. For godsake.
12:15 p.m. A photographer arrives to take your picture for a newspaper piece on your new book. He gives you a funny look at the door. You wonder if you should have showered. You put on a clean shirt. And lip gloss. What do they want from you? There is nothing to celebrate. There is no party here. Stare directly into the camera. Do not smile. This is not an occasion for smiling. There will be no more occasions for smiling. The last occasion was yesterday morning when your life still had purpose and you watched that Youtube video of the golden retriever relaxing in a soapy bath. You should have appreciated it more, then. Your mother-in-law is right: you have always taken things for granted. When the photographer asks what you like to read, tell him, The Death of the Author. When he asks you to hold a copy of your book, hold it straight out in front of the camera, right in their faces, like Spike Lee, thinking, This, this, you bastards.
12:50 p.m. Text your husband for the fifth time to say you’re pretty sure you’re not going to write another book. Say, What’s the point? Say, I can’t believe I’ve wasted my life. Say, I feel dead inside. Say, LOLZ. Say, TTYL.
1:00 p.m. Do not feel hurt that he is no longer responding. He is probably just busy.
1:15 p.m. Send him one more text just to make sure he’s getting them. Say, Are you getting my texts? Say, I feel dead. Inside. Say, I have no more words. Say, Also can you pick up milk. And dental floss. Say YOLO.
1:20 p.m. Doesn’t your blog need updating? You stare at the page. You have nothing to say. Instead, you play around with the template. Consider a new career in web design. Take forty minutes just to change the colours but feel inordinately pleased with yourself. See, you are no loser. You have skills.
2:08 p.m. Do not under any circumstances look at the new novel you started working on before you knew you had wasted your life. Google something. It doesn’t matter what.
2:31 p.m. Still nothing from Guillermo.
2:32 p.m. Ok, just one look at the novel, then. Fiddle with the opening sentence. But it is no good. You have not the heart for it. Dead, etc.
2:40 p.m. Write something else. Something for the blog, why not, anybody can blog, right? You don’t have to be a writer. You are not a writer.
4:17 p.m. You have written. Therefore you arrrre…still not on that effing prize list. Still, you feel less dead. Undead, perhaps. A phrase comes to mind: Work is its own cure, you have to like it better than being loved. You can’t remember who said that, but you think maybe it was Anne Sexton. You hope it wasn’t Anne Sexton.
4:20 p.m. Your children arrive home. Put your work away. Progress, in spite of yourself. When they ask how your day was, say, Fine. Say, Good. This is, actually, the truth.
When they ask why the dog is under the couch, tell them you haven’t the foggiest, he has been weird all day.