If, by chance, you came upon my History and turned through its pages, you would find overwhelming scenes of me staring at books. Perhaps some are filled with words, printed and bound and crisp-paged, in just the way a book ought to be. Others are empty, their blank pages waiting for my pen to start moving—my pen, hovering only half an inch above the lined paper. In some scenes, I would begin to scribble half-baked thoughts and rhymes and riddles however I please, but in others—in most—the pen would slowly drift from the page, and before long, I'd set it down.
After all, what could my silly thoughts ever come to?
But perhaps your fingers drift over my memories, and something flickering snags your attention. Look a bit closer, and you'll see a candle flaring up, its glow illuminating a half-size Moleskine with a cracked tan cover.
The night is June 29 2012. My electricity went out a few hours ago, it's now growing dark, and the suffocating heat is starting to overcome every nook and cranny in the house. I'm halfway slumped over my notebook as I stare dully at the flame. I'd love to write something—anything—and if I could make it something good, so much the better.
The page is blank.
On the facing side, there are some scribbled notes from my acting class—on heroes and gods and monsters, Medea and King Lear and mythology. They remind me of last winter and the ice-storms, and the half-faded memory of a story.
A story that's been nagging at me for a few days.
The basic stuff of the story—its genetic code, all scrambled and messy—is in my head, and I know the kind of story I'd make it. Until now, I've been rather resistant in not thinking about it. After all, it's a dreadful risk.
But in this moment, seated in near total darkness and with my candle flickering before me, I have nothing to lose. If I try to write it and it doesn't work, no one will know.
Yet I know myself, and if I don't have someone to report to, then I'll give up. I'll try to protect myself, to save me from my own scorn should I fail to write this novel. We are only ever so cruel to other people as we are to ourselves, in some way, and I couldn't do that. If I were that awful to myself, then I'd risk it spilling over and affecting people who'd done nothing to deserve it. A rotten apple spoils the peer group, and all that.
I need someone to know.
I grab my phone (precious little battery though it has), snap a picture, and tweet it. With a silent prayer, begging the stars to help me make this work, I grab my pen—swallow hard—and start writing.
That was the beginning of Cuddle Monsters, silly little creature it is. It might seem silly to some of you, I know. Yet that was the night I discovered how deeply writing really runs through my soul.
As it happens, however, the rest of my History's entry on this silly beast of a story and how tightly it's wound around my heart is still compiling. If and when it finishes, I'll let you know.