THE WRITER’S LIFE | FICTION
I was meant to have dinner with a friend last night, but I failed. We didn’t actually get around to eating. It’s a bit like me in real life, buying food and aspiring to fine meals, but only looking at produce as it gradually grows less fresh. We enjoyed a fictional meal nonetheless.
Pi: The endless constant (FiveThirtyEight)
Simon Fry was just as he’d been the last time I imagined him, and I probably hadn’t changed much in his eyes. His flat looked very much as I’d left mine, so I felt at home, even before he’d asked me to sit down. With me seated comfortably and uninvited, Simon went to a fridge very much like my own.
“What food’s in there?” I wondered.
“Enough to make some fine meals,” Simon replied, “and just enough for two.”
“There has to be, given my appetite.”
“I can’t buy portions small enough.”
“But there’s some nice food in here.”
“Less waste. I pay more for less of the premium stuff. Sometimes I even cook it.”
“I plan meals, imagine cooking and eating them, then don’t get around to it.”
“No-one to cook for, other than myself.”
“Are you offering?”
“Good. Fewer fictional dishes.”
So with dinner out of the way, Simon and I talked.
“Yours is a life,” Simon said, “of possibilities. Except you dwell on them, imagining what might be, but never living it.”
“I never go out.”
“Where are you now?”
“Exactly. So you need to keep imagining, but you need to share what you see with others. Then maybe they can see what I can.”
“Something I’ll never see,” I replied. “I sometimes compare life to love, when often they’re interchangeable; there must be very few people who’ve never been to that place. The best part of life is falling in love. It doesn’t matter that I never will again, just so long as others keep doing it. Being in love is a wonderful feeling, like your world is full of happiness. But falling there, and the anticipation, the feelings you’d forgotten since you last lived.”
“Like eating food?”
“Like planning a meal, perhaps with someone. As an objectivist, and having not fallen for some time, I can transcend it and write about it in a fictional sense. They say there’s a part of the writer in every story, but I left my heart in enough already. Sometimes it’s best just to let things go. You’d rather have seen how things went, but you can still imagine what might have been. No-one will ever know and you can keep that for yourself.”
“Like not finishing a story. And not eating.”
“When you’re in love with someone, you’re in love with the world. You’re loving living. When your greatest love ends, so does your life. I’m not in love with anyone; a lot of people a little bit, but only maybe one in another life. It’s always been difficult to separate fact from fiction in the lone writer’s story.”
“The one you’re writing. The non-fiction one needs to eat.”
“Maybe I’m too into it. Perhaps I actually am falling in love. But only with someone I’ve created as a character, or the person that actor came from? I’d never make a fictional character conform, as most of fiction is about conflict.”
“That would be life then. You’re falling back in love with being a writer, and you need to keep writing about it.”
“Eating it, instead of looking at it.”
“Exactly. But you do have an eating disorder to add to your list of ailments.”
There are very few people who could have pointed that out to me, in a way which made others see. Perhaps I’ll have a midnight snack.
It’s tomorrow now. I sit at my writing desk, gazing out of the window and wondering what the world is eating.