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Twenty(something) Questions: What now?

Joey Albanese

Joey Albanese

It’s been two days since I last wrote a story.

What now? I hear someone ask, with the face of an impatient mother waiting for her son to finish his homework. I’ll do it later, I think to myself, as I try to avoid eye contact with my empty notepads like old friends waiting for overdue apologies. What if no one wants to read the next one? What if it’s no good? What if there is no next one?

It’s been two weeks since I’ve written a story.

What now? The voice asked again while breathing down my neck like a bully threatening to take all I’ve got. The pen stays glued to my ear and the thoughts that run through my head bleed from fear and block those trying to make it down on paper. I search for an escape but see none. And so I sit there as my sweat drips in tune with the ticking of the clock: tick, tock.

Now it’s been two months since I last wrote a story.

What now? The voice asked repeatedly, with the tone of a bored child waiting to be played with. What now? What now? What now? Is a writer still a writer if he’s not writing? Is an artist still an artist if he’s not creating? Is a mother still a mother if she’s not caring?

What nonsense such thoughts are, I cried to myself. Two days cannot make a man less of a man. Two weeks does not hide what a carpenter has built. Two months does not erase that which I’ve done. But a man is not that which he has done. He will only ever be that which he is now. And that will change at the next tick of the clock.

So what now? I asked the voice in my head, with the curiosity of a man with a one-way ticket.

I don’t know, I responded, as I smiled and wrote it all down.


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