Everyone has a box under the bed. Maybe it’s the bottom little corner of your favorite jewelry box. Maybe it’s tucked in beneath your underwear or in an old but charming cookie tin stashed behind some T-shirts, pushed all the way to the back of your closet. Or maybe, like me, it’s a dusty, cob-webbed corner in your mind. A secret room you only open when it’s dark and quiet but for the tick-tick-tick of the wall clock.
That’s where I keep my writing. Only a precious few friends know my ambitions. And I’m sure they pay it no mind. Why would they if they’ve never seen any writing?
In my profession we are used to applauding colleagues for success in publishing. It’s publish or perish and there are no negotiations. Academe favors the courageous and the composing.
Which is why so many colleagues (and line managers) are silently concerned about my career. ‘She doesn’t have the outputs.’ ‘I’ve never read anything of hers.’
…because I never share my publication success. I submit it to the office that does nothing but count outputs and I go on my way. And when the reports come, everyone is too busy polishing their own promises to notice my name.
No-one knows I write. Not friend or foe or agent or editor.
And why not? Because I’m too chicken shit, that’s why. In my head I can still imagine I have the unadorned, verb-strong expressions of Hemingway or the Christmas tree harmonies of Garcia Marquez. But when its read I have to face the fact that I have none of these things. That I’m only mildy talented. And of course no-one says: ‘Oh hello, you are but mildy talented.’ No…you hear it in the glossing over of eyes when the text is stretched out beyond its welcome. In the diverted eyes and shallow ‘it’s good, Agie,’ and the litte too quick ‘do you know what you want to order?’ that follows.
The sands of time has sneaked past the tapered tunnel and I’ve done nothing to reveal my blue-eyed baby. When they find me one day, my bones bare, still leaning behind a computer screen, they won’t even find thick manuscripts in pretty, bowed boxes. They’ll never know of the password protected files. And even if they do, they’ll never discover the contents. Because it’s all in a box under my bed.