I click through web pages on my computer. I’m having a little Internet Time. I spot something that catches my interest. I smile. I click it. The title reads How to Be a Writer. Beneath it there’s a list of instructions. How fascinating. I read on.
1. Go to the beach
2. Lick your friend’s eyelashes
3. Make pee-pee in a pot plant
I scowl and close the tab. Surely these things won’t make me a writer? Sighing, I begin a search for something more practical. I type away.
A link appears before me. It’s a little thing sitting on the left side of the page. I hold my cursor near it indecisively. How to Be a Poet. I click.
1. Drench yourself in anxiety
2. Seriously, drench yourself
3. You’ve gotta do some sports-drink-advertisement worthy drenching right here
4. Also bathe yourself in woe
I scroll through the list, getting more and more desperate. Where is the part about writing actual poetry? My heart is racing. I feel the nauseous repulsion that comes with realising that something I love is something I hate. The icy sensation that comes from being in close proximity with something too self-indulgent; too pretentious. It’s everywhere. It’s everything.
I close the window and slowly relax.
My jaw clenches. This can’t be the end of my journey. Surely there are writers with some useful know-how somewhere? I open a new browser window. I am determined. I begin typing and my fingers take me to the Internet-Age Mecca of Know-How: WikiHow.
I scroll through a list of articles, and How to Be Happy appears.
Perfect. I don’t need to be a writer. I’ll just be happy. I close my eyes, preparing myself for the enlightenment that will soon be mine. I click.
1. Light a candle
2. Realise that you are in your early twenties and no one will ever love you
3. Rub your face on a curtain
I scream. I actually scream in frustration, just a short burst that might wake up the neighbours but won’t really surprise them. I press the back button with manic fervour, working myself into a frenzy. I go to Yahoo Answers. This is my final effort, my plunge into the deep. It’s my last war cry as I hunt for truth in a world of flowery liars. I see red. I type in my question. How do I reconcile myself with the ambiguity of a culture without comprehensible cause –?
I backspace furiously. I type a better question. Does anyone know anything? I hover over the publish button. I click.
My question gets posted. I wait. I bite my lip and wait and wait, wrestling with strange nerves. Finally someone sees my bereft cry for help – finally, an answer appears.
1. Slice a noodle down the middle
I am rage. I am the actual embodiment of rage, manifested in a 20-year-old girl sitting at a tired computer. I am all rage, all of it; every single ounce of rage that everyone has felt in our galaxy throughout all of time suddenly deposited in a puny little iron-deficient body. I close my laptop. I walk to the kitchen. I take a noodle. I take a knife.
I slice that little noodle down its middle.
And... Nothing happens. I receive no great reward for my efforts. The universe does not crown me a Writer. Or Happy. Or anything else that might be particularly profound. I stand here, panting and alone in my kitchen, with a knife in one hand and two bedraggled slices of noodle in the other. I understand, now. I think I understand a little bit.
I dump the noodle pieces in the bin and put the knife away. I return to my bedroom, my footfalls softer. I feel more relaxed and simultaneously more purposeful. I sit at my desk.