How to Be (10)

Samantha Edmonds


A void

Sit in a coffee shop alone, where no one knows your name, and write. Sit in the corner of a bookstore alone, where people look at you strangely, and write. Sit in a library alone, where no one talks to each other, and write. Become a Starbucks regular. Rotate between the three in your town. Haunt independently owned coffee shops. Don’t bother to learn the names of the employees. Lurk in corner booths, in window seats. Gravitate to the two outlets. Eat your meals there, if you eat at all. And write.

Realize that you were always going to end up here, no matter what you chose.

Think to yourself there is beauty in heartbreak and pretty words in pain, but remember that everyone uses the point of a pen to stitch up a broken heart. Stop acting like you have something to offer to the world (and to him) that is somehow different than what other people have.

Write new stories. Ones with hearts that beat, that breathe, that bleed. Understand finally that fiction is not made up at all. Wonder if it is possible to be a good writer and also to be happy. Think immediately that this is a stupid question. Realize that wasn’t an answer. Recognize that you would trade these words in an instant for a taste of something like happiness, but see also that you never had a choice. Understand that the pain was necessary in order for your writing to grow, and the writing was necessary in order to stand the heartbreak—the chicken, the egg, what came first, the writing or the pain?

At this point, stop showing your mother what you’re working on.


Samantha Edmonds is a graduate creative writing student at the University of Cincinnati. Her short work has appeared in the Boston Literary Magazine and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency.