I give up, writing. I think.
The first story I wrote was in 1989, when I was 11, after an earthquake interrupted the World Series. It was a short story about humans discovering two warring nations beneath the surface of the Earth – one benevolent and friendly, the other violent and obsessed with power.
The last story I had published was seven months ago: a sultan in an ancient Muslim paradise must decide which of his three sons should succeed him. Two of the sons, the twins, are fools; the third son is born of a slave girl and never speaks. The father gives them a test, a magical bird. Whoever gains the most with it will gain the throne.
The last story I wrote? I don’t remember.
Many of my friends are successful/aspiring writers. Sometimes that’s cool. Writers are weirdos. They’re grown-ass adults who voluntarily spend much of their lifespan alone, obsessing about the world of make-believe. Company helps. Ever seen a mental patient on the street versus one in a psych ward? Company helps. Sometimes knowing so many writers blows. Because just like when you were in elementary school and always comparing your height to your peers, as an adult writer you end up comparing your life to the people you know who chose to be the same lonely make-believe weirdo you chose to be. Yet comparing yourself to another writer is a fool’s errand, since it’s impossible to ever really know how any other human being is ever really doing, much less one who excels at storytelling. Writers excel at manipulating reality and spinning believable falsehoods. Writers are basically taking selfies 24/7, only selfies of places that don’t exist. People who take selfies look like they’re seizing the day, but stopping life to freeze a frieze of it’s not carpe diem. It’s carpe cellulaire.