What follows is a verbatim conversation between two un-named writers. But just for convenience’s sake we will say their names are Gertrude and Virginia.
(Gertrude and Virginia are tandem writing. They are both sitting on the couch with their laptops balanced on their knees. Virginia is writing and Gertrude is frowning into space. Virginia pauses mid-stroke and looks at Gertrude.)
Virgina: What’s wrong?
Gertrude: Not a thing.
Virginia: That’s not what your face says.
Gertrude: What does my face say?
Virginia: It’s saying that something’s bothering you.
Gertrude: I should never have given you those Aspberger ‘s face cards.
Virginia: (with a great deal of patience) What’s wrong?
Gertrude: My writing sucks.
Virginia: Define sucks.
Gertrude: It’s shit. Everything I write is shit.
Virginia: So’s mine. That doesn’t keep me from writing. I’ve written twelve shitty books.
Gertrude: What should I do?
Virginia: Put a warning in the acknowledgements: Sorry, this is so shitty. I promise I’ll do better next time.
Gertrude: You’re not funny.
Virginia: I told you my writing was shit.
Gertrude: Mine is shittier than yours.
Virginia: No, mine is worse. Way worse.
Gertrude: So now we’re arguing about who’s the worse writer?
Virginia: I can’t help it if I’m naturally competitive.
Gertrude: I can’t write. I’m all constipated.
Virginia: Tell me what you’re thinking.
Gertrude: I’m thinking that I’m afraid. I’m afraid that I’ll turn this book in to the publisher and they’ll suddenly say, “Oh, I’m sorry, we just now realized that you weren’t a real writer.”
Gertrude: I’m afraid somebody will find out my secret.
Virginia: What’s the secret?
Gertrude: I’m a shitty writer.
Virginia: You’ve written a billion plays, a thousand movies and you’re working on your third book and nobody has noticed so far.
Gertrude: You’re supposed to be making me feel better.
Virginia: When you wrote (insert name of first published book here) were you afraid?
Gertrude: Because I was writing for myself. I wrote because it was fun. I just wrote the book that I wanted to read.
Virginia: Maybe you should try that again.
Virginia: What are you thinking?
Getrude: You may be right. I need to just write. Not worry. I mean…
Gertrude: …I write because it’s fun. And I’d do it even if I didn’t get published or nobody else would read it.
Virginia: I want to read it, though. I like your writing.
Gertrude: I like yours, too.
(Gertrude and Virginia both stare off into space for a full moment. Suddenly, Gertrude’s fingers begin to move across her own keyboard. Virginia frowns and stares at Gertrude. After a few moments, Gertrude pauses in her writing.)
Gertrude: What’s wrong?
Gertrude: You look like something’s bothering you.
Virginia: My writing sucks. I can’t write anymore.
Gertrude: Mine is way worse than yours…