The man thought he would like to become a writer, but didn’t think he was well read enough. He ordered some books. Some were from the Amazon best-seller list, others he picked from a forum post: 100 BOOKS TO READ BEFORE YOU DIE. He cherrypicked the shorter books with a page count of less than or around two hundred pages. This, he theorized, was the best way to get through as many books as possible in the shortest amount of time. He picked books from a variety of genres, but none too old.
He would read these books two at a time. He would balance a novel and a book of short stories, or a book of essays. He would read the biographies of great men. When a book was done he would tick it off on his GoodReads profile (which he would set up) and pick up another. He would use various items for bookmarks – receipts, playing cards, dollar bills – but never an actual bookmark. He would go to great pains to never fold a corner or crease a spine. He would line the completed books on a shelf and occasionally make a mental note of how many there were. Previously abandoned books, including a fat Wordworth Classics edition of The Brothers Karamazov sat in a stack on the coffee table.
After a time he would be ready to write, but what to write on? He had a laptop he used in his old job, but the screen was a whopping seventeen inches and when the graphics card was under duress the large fans would produce a steady drone. The laptop was full of messaging apps and games and other distractions. The weight hurt his knees after prolonged use. Not to mention the association with work. He didn’t want writing to be ‘work’. Best to find something smaller, less distracting. Something with no internet and a better battery (for long sessions in the coffee shop). He Googled for the most spartan notepad app, recalling an article he read about George R. R. Martin and how he used a DOS processor for all his work. The man made a mental note to keep a constant supply of backups, versions.
Then there was the problem of where to write. He cleared the miscellany of the study into the spare bedroom, armfuls at a time. He rotated the trinkets on the sills and shelves, dusting beneath each in turn. Lint listed lazily in the daylight as the man vigorously vacuum-cleaned right into the corners, sweat shimmering on his red neck. He filled garbage bags until there was no more room in the can outside. He wiped down the old school desk and arranged a lamp, an ipad dock, a coaster with ‘COFFEE IS THE GASOLINE OF LIFE’ recessed across it.
Then the problem of what to write. He bought a moleskin notebook with the intention of writing down minutia and trivia. Observations. He picked one that slipped easily into his jacket pocket, for rapid retrieval. He considered buying a hip-flask for the other pocket; after all, the best writers were also irresponsible drinkers. Maybe he could develop a habit and fast-track himself to Hemmingway status?
Or perhaps he should be more mindful of his intake? Healthy body, healthy mind. He stocked his fridge with vegetables and bought flax and chia seed from a health food store. He made a couple of smoothies but struggled getting the ratios right. Instead, blended apple and kale congealed over a lake of coconut water. He grimaced as he drank, and spent the afternoon sucking kale flecks out of his gums.
His wife comes home at around 5pm and he is already preparing dinner. She asks how his day was and he replies ‘productive’. An hour later, with the plates soaking in the sink, they collapse onto the sofa and watch TV. The show ends, and the great Netflix algorithm recommends another, then another. He dozes to the gentle tones of Bob Ross. As 11pm approaches they proceed up to bed, single file, turning the study light off as they pass.
As he slips into unconsciousness, the man thinks that maybe he would like to become a painter.