Susan, I am so sorry I backed my Acura over your son’s toe yesterday. Especially since I did it on purpose. I know it’s not an excuse, but you have to understand that I am a writer. The first rule of my profession is “write what you know.” And right now I’m two thousand words into a short story about a gaggle of catty suburban moms who use their children as pawns. Crushing Aidan’s metatarsals was the only way I could tap into a deranged, stay-at-home mother’s psyche. It’s called process.
Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am always putting myself in uncompromising positions for my art. Just last year, I was working on a screenplay and came to an impasse when one of my characters wanted to embezzle $500,000. How could I possibly articulate the nuances of embezzlement when I had never embezzled myself? I couldn’t. And that’s why for the last fifty weeks, I’ve been asking customers at Whole Foods, where I moonlight as a cashier, if they’d like to “Round Up for Refugees.” Even if they say no, I syphon their change into my personal bank account. I’ve never been more productive.
Of course, I feel terrible about Aidan’s limp, but this experience will add a layer of authenticity to my work. And in case you hadn’t noticed, authenticity is kinda my thing. I’ve hijacked a car in broad daylight to experience the adrenaline rush of a natural-born criminal. I’ve burned down my brother’s house just to write from the point of view of an estranged sibling. Recently, I abandoned my husband and newborn child to honestly describe the cloak guilt weaves around the wretched. I got that phrase out of it.
Sure, your kid is on adult doses of Fentanyl, but put yourself in my shoes. Do you have any idea what it’s like to flush your morals down the toilet in pursuit of someone else’s truth? To force yourself to catcall a woman in a funeral procession or masturbate in front of a young, impressionable colleague while chomping on a T-bone steak just to explore the subtleties of white male privilege? I didn’t think so.
Ever poisoned a guide dog? Worn an SS uniform to a Jewish wedding? Shown up on an old Irish couple’s doorstep pretending to be the daughter they lost at sea thirty years ago, slowly gained their trust, convinced them to confront their trauma and get back out on the water, and then jumped off the boat never to be seen again, AGAIN? Well, then you couldn’t possibly know what it’s like to be a writer.
Look Susan, I’m not thrilled about your son’s amputation either. But, maybe instead of bemoaning his new handicap, you could see it like I do: as a symbol of his commitment to artistic integrity. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to out a gay man to his family on the jumbotron at a televised sporting event. I’m writing a play.