Sunday, September 17, 2006

They're After Me

by Brian Mullen

I know they’re after me. They told me so. Which is really nice of them, now that I think about it. I should probably send them a fruit basket or something just to say ‘Thanks.’ But I digress.

They’re after me. They know where I live and, at any given moment, they know where I am. That's because they live inside my brain. They are the Sanity Police and I routinely top their Most Wanted list.

I should probably explain. My name is Brian Mullen and, the way I see it, I have three jobs. Taken separately, these three jobs are fairly benign in the grand scheme of things. But when you put them all out!

First, there’s my day job – the one that pays the bills and affords me the luxury of eating things other than Ramen Noodle Soup three times a day. I am an "Environmental Consultant." I help businesses and industries find a way to continue to do business while protecting the qualities of the air, water and land we all share. This is a job that heavily involves a computer. Virtually every day I am accessing federal, state and local regulations, completing electronic permits, creating descriptive drawings and layouts, writing reports and summaries, etc. I am in front of a computer virtually all of my eight hour day. It can be mind-numbing.

Then I tackle job number two which I’ll dub “The Writer.” If you want to be a writer, the maxim says, you have to act like a writer. And writers write. So, after eight near-solid hours in front of my work computer, I come home and try to convince myself to spend at least one or two more in front of my home computer cranking out just a few more pages of that latest story on which I’m working. By this time my fingers are getting tired, my eyes are starting to hurt, and my brain’s screen saver kicks on a little more often than it should.

After that, it’s time for job number three which I’ll dub “Aspiring Author.” “Fat load of good having a novel sitting on your hard drive does you,” I tell myself. “Someone needs to see it. Are there any contests you can enter? Are there any new publishers or agents to add to your lists? How about any local events you can attend where you might meet someone who can help you along with your goal?” Well, where can I find the answers to these questions? That’s right, on the Internet. Which means I should probably spend some time checking. . . on my computer. Just one more hour I tell myself. Just one more hour.

That’s usually when the metaphorical door in my mind gets knocked off its hinges and in swarm the Sanity Police.

“Step away from the computer, sir,” they shout to me. “You are in violation of Sanity Ordinance 346274385(b)(IIV)(x) Subparagraph 14C. We’re taking you downstairs to the family room where you will sit with your wife on the couch and watch television. Don’t make me use the pepper spray, sir.”

The problem is. . . I hate television. When there were just a few dozen channels, space was limited and the programming at least got a certain level of scrutiny before they were approved. Now there’re a few hundred channels each with 24 hours of air time to fill so they’re more likely to air crap and take a chance. This means watching television just heightens my anxiety. “This stinks,” I say. “Why, I could write something better than this.” Then an idea hits me – and I think about going back to the computer.


“I warned you, sir,” shout the police.

It’s very perilous being an Aspiring Author.


Tory Butterworth said...

But they're concerned about you! They just want what's best for you. And your eyes. :-)


Cathy said...

Hi Brian,
Great post. I look forward to meeting you one of these days...unless they get you.

Joyce said...

Very funny, Brian! And I know what you mean about TV. I finally got smart and dropped back to the bare-bones cable for $12/month. I've found I'm not missing a thing!

mike said...

Too funny...and oh so true too! Thanks for the laughs and the insight into your working life and a chance to read your wonderful use of language (brain screen saver--what a hoot!)

Kristine said...

I'm still laughing, Brian. Great post! As your new writing buddies, we are here to support you (or at least provide you with aspirin for those screen-induced headaches).

Anonymous said...

Very funny, Brian!

Writing isn't necessarily easy for writers, but we have to do something with those characters in our heads.

It's really a mental condition, so I think we should get a government subsidy.