Extract from a longer piece

The sky looked like a strawberry milkshake. What was it they said? Red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning. But what did a pink sky mean? John didn’t know, but he wasn’t feeling optimistic.

He should have never thrown that party last night. He’d only invited five people, but a glass of wine had turned into a bottle of wine, then John had discovered some whisky in the kitchen cabinet. His mother’s, he realised now. He groaned, shifting his position on the bed. His mother was going to kill him.

Write drunk, Hemingway said. It’ll be a good idea, Hemingway (probably) said. John had given it a go, but the advice wasn’t working for him. It hadn’t worked for ten years. Then again, many great writers lived uncelebrated by their contemporaries. Clearly John was too great for his time.

John groaned again and swung his legs out of the bed. The world looked slanted. He had developed a slightly skewed way of walking over the past few years, but was too lazy to go to the doctor’s. No doubt it was the weight of all the knowledge he possessed in the right side of his brain. Wait. Which was the creative side again? Left or right? He forgot.

Edit sober, Hemingway had also said. John scratched his behind, then plonked himself behind his computer. The room was swimming, reminding him that he wasn’t sober, and the adage was therefore wasted on him.  Then again, what did Hemingway know? John opened up the document he’d been working on – the novel that would make him the next Dickens or at the very least Melville – and was greeted by a whole load of mumbo-jumbo. In his drunken stupor, he had butchered his novel with too many parentheses and not enough speech. If only his agent could see this!

Joke was on him. John didn’t have an agent. He sighed, before flexing his fingers and getting to work. He’d only written a page last night but it would take hours to clear up this mess.

“Are you going to clear up this mess then?”

John jumped, turning to see his mother standing at the door. Yes, he lived with his mother now. He’d been living with her ever since that book deal had fallen through and his wife had left him and he’d drunk away his mortgage and the kids had left for university (bless the poor sods, at least they weren’t doing an arts degree). Living with his mother wasn’t too bad. It was a better option than living with his friends Tina, John, and Ashley. Still, sometimes his mother would say or do things that weren’t in the outline, and it frustrated him.

“That’s what I’m trying to do,” he snapped, gesturing at the screen. “Do you see this? I even used an Oxford Comma for crying out loud!”

“I meant downstairs. I don’t know what you were playing at last night, but the place is a mess.” His mother sniffed. “And it stinks in here. Open a window…”

John was about to insist he was a grown man, and he would open his window when he liked. But he remembered the empty whisky bottle lying in the rubbish bin and decided it would be best to comply.


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