I call you Petunia, though you are just an aspect of me. I call you this because the name reminds me of a girl from elementary school who never once talked to me without that look on her face–eyes narrowed, nose wrinkled in disgust. She was a pretty-faced girl who could be nice, but for some reason didn’t like me.
Petunia, you are just like that girl. No matter what I do, you are there ready to jab your stick pin in my balloon, push me in the lunch line. You tell me that if I think that just because I want to be a writer my writing deserves to be read by anyone else at all, I am delusional, at best a fool playing an elaborate game of pretend.
You tell me to work hard and keep my nose to the ground. You wonder why I waste my time solving problems that involve placing words in order on a page. If I like stories so much, you tell me, I should just read more. There are already more worthy stories out there than I could read in two life times, at least.
You add, in that snotty way you have, that I’m not very good at it anyway. Sure, I’ve struck creative gold a few times, but to a certain extent writing is like sex. If you do it often enough, you’re bound to create something better than yourself.
You don’t like the way I dress or laugh, and you certainly don’t like the way my conflicts aren’t resolved and my scenes too thinly sketched. If you can get my attention, you tell me all this in a steady stream, barely pausing for breath so that my pen stops mid-sentence and I exhale an exasperated sigh, then check my email or do the dishes because who the hell am I kidding anyway?
Petunia, I know this letter won’t bring an end to our relationship. You are an inextricable part of me, and in my optimism, I like to think, a strangely necessary part that keeps me working at becoming a better writer.
Petunia, there is something I want you to know. The most alive I ever feel comes always after writing something I believe is pretty good or maybe even better. That feeling comes from a desire to create far more powerful than your desire to destroy.
I’ve got you where I want you,