I’m sitting in a local coffee shop, a new book in my hands and on my my hidden tongue, behind my teeth, moving with the rhythm of the words as I speak them in my head. Beside me, a cup of yerba mate steams against the cold from the window, and a arm buttermilk biscuit sits on a plate with one little bowl of butter and one of raspberry jam.
The book I’m reading, which I have only just begun, was recommended, as part of an event, by one of the best writers I’ve ever read, probably the best who I’ve ever had the privilege to get to know and work with.
I’m feeling a myriad of emotions sitting here, and every time I read a few more sentences in the book, I put it down, last month’s bus pass as my bookmark, to thumb-type a few more of my own into the notepad app on my phone.
I feel proud of myself for leaving the house to go to the event, since I had to go alone and with the exception of my old mentor, who I wasn’t even sure would recognize me, I didn’t know anyone there. I feel foolish and stupid for being awkward and stunted and strange, for struggling so much just to carry on a normal, everyday conversation. I feel glad that I got to see her, and touched that she did remember me, I feel grateful and happy that she shared real pieces of her life with me and that she asked me with genuine feeling what I’ve been working on, that she expressed with real care that she’s glad I have the time and the mental space to be working on anything.
I feel silly for being so emotional, full of creeping loathing for putting my foot in my mouth so consistently, grateful to myself and to her and to the world for allowing me to have the experience, however brief and difficult.
I spent money that I don’t have on two books I’ve been wanting to read. I left the event feeling worse than I did when I walked in, for no real reason other than my own insecurities and the over-extension of my under-exercised social limb. I bought myself a cup of hot tea and an old-world-sweet snack — the kind of thing that tastes rich and special not despite, but because of, its simplicity — and I sat down alone by the window.
My heart is tender and sad and often lonely, but these are the moments when I most appreciate my craft, entirely divorced from what may or may not ever come from it. These are the moments that nurture the writer, these tiny triumphs and even tinier gifts, and the writer will always continue, as long as there are words to transmute moments and feelings into something more. Disappointment in myself turns a character into a true representation, the reflection of something real. Raspberry jam becomes magic.