“For someone who’s supposed to be such an optimist you really can be a drag.” Sam was making breakfast for dinner. She didn’t mind cooking and Chad seemed incapable of it. So, if they happened to be at home at the same time she didn’t mind throwing something together. “Could you grab the eggs, please?”
“The thing is, I am an optimist. The problem comes with the execution.”
“You should be happy. Your book's out there and it’ll be in print for real by summer. What more do you want?”
“I want to write a real book and get it published.”
“Success Through Failure is a real book,” said Sam, opening the gray cardboard box of eggs. “Or it will be.”
“No, it’s just a self-help book. It’s a book about how to succeed by someone who succeeded by writing a book.” Chad was up now and pouring himself another glass of wine. “If you can call it a success.”
“How do you define success,” Sam asked cracking eggs methodically into a bowl and discarding the shells.
“You think I woke up one morning in the eighth grade and decided I wanted to be a writer, so I could write tips and tricks on social networking? Or how to build your personal brand? Hell no, I thought I was going to be Bret Easton Elis or Jay McInerney”
Well, Bret Easton Elis isn’t even Bret Easton Elis anymore.” Sam asserted with the crack of a brown and oddly spotted egg. “Besides isn’t this book a beginning, a way to get your name out there. Why can’t your next book be the great American Novel? Look, we don’t all get to do what we want. Do you think I’m happy promoting Darrell’s Dry Cleaners or Nault’s Chevrolet or weekend drag racing?”
“Sunday! Sunday! Come on Down!” Chad bellowed imitating a radio announcer and nearly spilling his wine in the process.
“And besides who listens to the radio anymore anyway? You think you’re in a dead end job, look at me.”
“So, what do you want to do Samantha?” Chad said, pouring more wine into her half empty glass, leaning into her from behind to do so.
“You know what I wanted to do. What is even worse than aspiring to write the great American novel?”
“To write the great American poem,” Chad said sheepishly, singing it, almost into his glass.
“Truth is Chad, I’m thinking that wanting to be a writer is what people do when they don’t know what they want to do.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Well first of all, it appears that everybody is a writer now thanks to the internet. Secondly, with so much content available and such a small shrinking, truly discerning audience, it’s even harder to make a real living.”
“That’s where you’re wrong,” Chad asserted regaining his optimism.
“Oh, here we go,” Sam muttered in time with the eggs she was vigorously whisking.
“This is a golden age for the written word. Art and democracy have come together through technology. Now you can write and publish without depending on some editor at Random House or Penguin being in a good mood when they just happen to pull your manuscript out of the slush pile. It’s a level playing field.”
“Great, you can write, publish, print, but you also have to do all your own marketing and promotion. How are you supposed to write when you have to spend all your time building a network by blogging and tweeting, by posting on Facebook and tumblr etc… It’s exhausting.” And as if to demonstrate just how exhausting Sam, stopped whisking and dropped into a chair at the kitchen table. “If you look at writers through history, they were not the most social people - they liked to spend their time in their garrets writing. If you ask me writing today is about marrying art and commerce. To get anywhere with serious literature you need an MFA and time at the Iowa Workshop for Writers. Technology is great, don’t get me wrong, but it doesn’t make everyone an artist. Besides if you don’t use the right keywords you’ll never come up on google - so, so much for your level playing field.”
“I’m just saying that if you have the will and determination you can do it. Now, look who’s being a drag.”
“I suppose,” Sam said, pouring the eggs into a frying pan. “Salt, pepper, feta cheese, please, quick. Oh, and there’s turkey bacon in the meat compartment.”
“Coming right up. More wine?”
“If I didn’t know better I’d think you were trying to get me drunk.”
“Maybe, I am.” Chad said as he poured more wine into Sam’s glass.
Later on, after a hasty dinner and even hastier sex, Chad was asleep. Sam was cleaning up, rinsing dirty dishes and stacking them in the dishwasher. Usually when they slept together, it was the result of a heated conversation and too much wine. This time wouldn’t have been any different accept that in the heat of passion, Chad had murmured ever so softly, “I love you.” Sam thought maybe he was talking to himself, and laughed out loud remembering the moment. But she knew he wasn’t. She also knew he wasn’t expecting a response - that he just wanted or needed to say it. Besides, even though Sam was a year younger, she thought of Chad as a kid. If his book was successful, they’d have to cope with that. And, if it failed, well they’d have to cope with that too. At least for now, they both had too many commitments, to commit to each other. She knew if she had her way, she’d go back to school, get that MFA and write poems like Marianne Moore, Sylvia Plath or Mary Oliver. She sprinkled the white dish detergent like a small pile of snow into the machine, closed the door, and turned it on. As she switched off the overhead light in the kitchen Sam heard the rumble and rush of water. As she slid into bed next to Chad, Sam imagined snow melting in warm rain.
If you missed the previous installment of Success Through Failure click here: