I wish I could say that I like writing with a pen. That on every occasion – in the train or in a café – I open a small and pretty notebook and immortalize poetic thoughts or profound quotes. Instead, I , at most, type a few words into my phone or decide to remember something impressive and curse myself at home because I didn’t. There is only one tool I can write with. No old-fashioned typewriter, no fountain pen with green ink. No: my laptop. There I can edit and delete and I delete a lot. Sometimes it would be nice to cross something out aggressively, until the paper underneath rips – unfortunately, you cannot do this with a laptop.

I prefer to write on the couch – you like to make fun of this fact. One cannot work on a couch, you say. I don’t work, I write. That’s different. As soon as it feels like work, I stop. This is the reason why I will never become a professional author. Because I never cross that painful line. I don’t want to. I don’t want to link writing with force. I don’t want to wait patiently for the flow to kick in. If the flow doesn’t start after three sentences, I just stop. I delete the page until it’s white again. And because that’s not enough, I pan the empty file into the trash. And then I empty the trash – just to make sure. Maybe after that I will start from the beginning, maybe with a new topic, but maybe I’ll just stop. You can’t surf without waves.

You laugh. Then you shake your head and return to your numbers. Oh, my love, someone must have had a lot of humour bringing us together. You, focused on your numbers at your desk, me, juggling with words – on the couch. And when sometimes I throw you a word, you drop it, apparently you weren’t prepared. And when you sometimes throw me a number, I jump back startled, you threw a bit too hard.

But you like stories. You like tales with suspense, a great love and a happy ending. That’s important to you, because you invest a lot. We have that in common. We live and suffer with the protagonists. But sometimes mine cannot be happy. You don’t understand that. Why I cannot give my protagonist a nice ending, bestow her wealth and happiness and put a dot behind it, so nothing gets lost. I can’t help it. It was her fate. Who am I to question that? I gifted my protagonist personality, I gave her a free will, she has to choose her way herself, she leads my fingers on the keyboard. I am an almighty god in my world, but I create according to my own rules.

It’s okay if you don’t understand this. Sometimes I don’t understand it myself. Sometimes I have to learn from the beginning, because sometimes the last story is a long time ago.
That’s your fault, by the way. You see, I write much more and much better when I am unhappy. I can write for hours about heartache and missing someone. But only when I am wallowing in both of them. Then it goes smoothly, I set the right tone and find an outlet for my feelings. You know how hard it is to write about pain when you are feeling peachy? How every words sounds so cliché, as it has been written by thousands before?

And anyway, happy people don’t write. They are way too busy living their lives. And therefore I say with just a little bit of bad conscience that I spend my Thursday nights much rather with you watching tv. When our biggest problem is those few seconds between two episodes on Netflix. (If we don’t react in these seconds we’ll again have to spend the next 40 minutes here.) I’d trade anytime one hour with you watching tv for a lifetime on the couch in flow.

And that’s why it’s okay that sometimes days go by, sometimes weeks, sometimes months in which I don’t write a word. It’s okay that the only story in my head is ours. And when I tell you about our two rocking chairs and our declining years in a house at the sea, then you are welcome to ask me mockingly, how I know how our story ends. And then I can tell you, with the absolute certainty of a writer who knows her protagonists: Because I wrote it, my love. That’s what I do. I write stories.


Maria Tramountani

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